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Yukon Legislative Assembly=

Whitehorse, Yukon

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 — 1:00 p.m. <= o:p>

 

Speaker: I w= ill now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with prayers.=

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Prayers

Daily Routine

Speaker: We = will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.

Introduction of Visitors

Hon. Ms. McPhee: I will ask my colleagues to help me welcome Mr. Tim Koepke to the House, former Ombudsman and Information= and Privacy Commissioner and Officer of this Legislative Assembly. Welcome.

Applause

 

Ms. Hanson: I just wanted to add to the Minister of Justice’s welcome to Tim Koepke that he was also the chief federal negotiator = on the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in negotiations and played an instrume= ntal role in getting that agreement through the federal system.

Applause

 

Speaker: Are= there any further introductions of visitors?

TRIBUTES

In recognition of the 20<= sup>th anniversary of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in final and self-government agreements

Hon. Ms. Frost: It is with great pleasure that I rise today to pay tribute to = the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation. This year they celebr= ate the 20th anniversary of their final and self-government agreemen= ts. On July 16, 1998, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, the Governme= nt of Canada and the Government of Yukon signed the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in final and self-government agreements.

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens voted to sign the land cla= ims agreement with an overwhelming majority of 92 percent. This was the strongest endorsement for any land claim agreement in Yukon and perhaps in Canada. Since 1998, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in have accomplished so much. They are advancing their self-government in ways that benefit their citizens, community and the Yukon as a whole. Tr’ond&eu= ml;k Hwëch’in is working hard to accomplish their vision, which is to maintain their relationship to the land, preserve their heritage and empower their people.

Their = Heritage department is doing an exceptional job working with their elders and their citizens in research to revitalize the Hän language and the culture. The Moosehide Gatheri= ng and the Dänojà Zho= Cultural Centre are incredible examples of cultural revitalization at work.=

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in have successfully protected and maintained their connection to the land despite ongoing historic and modern pressures from mining activity. They fought to protect the important histor= ic area of Tr’ochëk from legal action a= gainst illegal mining activities in the 1990s, then ha= d it protected as a heritage site in their final agreement and now today, they h= ave had it designated as a national historic site.

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in have been unwavering in their commitment to protect this culturally significant area. They were also instrumental in the development and now the management of Tombstone Territo= rial Park. This park protects not only the natural environment, but the cultural importance of the land as well.

TrR= 17;ondëk Hwëch’in has been an active and engaged participant in managing = the land and resources on their traditional territory. They are a champion for sustainable development that creates opportunities and prosperity for their citizens. Since they have become self-governing in 1998, they have taken on more and more responsibilities and now have 10 departments that serve their citizens. I would like to thank some of the visionary leaders who were invo= lved in the negotiations and signing of these agreements.

Mahsicho to former Chief Steve Taylor, Percy Henry, Peggy Korme= ndy, Hilda Titus and Angie Joseph-Rear. Thank you to the former councillors and family representatives Edward Roberts, Art Christiansen, Duane Taylor, Fred Taylor, Karen Farr, Trudy Lindgren and Ronald Johnson. Thank you to the negotiators Tim Gerberding and Ed Kormendy. There were many others who participated in this process — and, of cou= rse, Mr. Koepke, who was actively involved on t= he federal side.

It is = my pleasure today to highlight some of the many successes of Tr’ondë= ;k Hwëch’in. Congratulations on 20 years of self-government and mahsicho.<= /p>

Applause

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Ms. Van Bibber: I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the Yukon Party Official Opposition to pay tribute to the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in final agreement and self-government agreement.

Dawson= City has provided much to our territory through mining and tourism. This small town = is to be recognized for the amount they contribute to the territory’s economy. Gold rush history has captured the imagination of the world and the fascination is still strong some 120 years later, but the discovery of gold that started the Klondike stampede caused much turmoil and change for the F= irst Nation people in the region.

The Hän people were river people, although they did = travel inland for caribou and moose. They relied heavily on the river salmon and f= ish for their way of life. In 1896, there was no Dawson City, and two years lat= er, in 1898, there was a population of 30,000 people. Can you imagine if that e= ven happened today, in modern times? We would not be able to cope easily, no ma= tter what time in history.

With t= he influx of so many outsiders came corruption, alcohol, disease and a change so dras= tic that then-Chief Isaac took his people three miles downriver to settle at a place they called Moosehide Village. Even the f= ace of the First Nation people began to change as Northern Tutchone and Gwich̵= 7;in people also settled in the area, creating a mixed group now known as Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. The oral history, songs and dances= of the people are alive and well due to the passion of many elders and young people who strive to bring to life a story that could have been lost.

During= the 1950s and 1960s, Moosehide was all but abandoned as most First Nation families lived in Dawson City. It was a trying time for most of them due to lack of work and a meaningful place in Dawson society.

Now as= one of the self-governing First Nations, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’= in are forward-thinking and very progressive in many of their projects. I comm= end the amazing work done through the years. Just to highlight two initiatives = that I think are amazing — the biennial Moosehide Gathering is a festival featuring northern indigenous artists, and the gathering is truly a teaching as well as a reuniting event.

The ot= her project is the teaching farm, worked in conjunction with Yukon College, to ensure the citizens have fresh, healthy produce as well as raising chicken = and pork. Young people learn, study and work in the countryside and also have a bounty to share at the end of their season.

When I= think of the beauty of the Klondike region, the landmarks such as the Moosehide slide and the Midnight Sun Dome and the Klo= ndike River and Yukon River merging — one very dirty and the other crystal clear — that has been captured in so many photos, one can get a little nostalgic.

For ou= r first peoples, whether we call it “homeland”, “hometown”, “birthplace”, or “native land”, the strength of pri= de and sense of love for their part of the Yukon is as vast as the country we = have shared.

Well d= one, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, for of the 120 years that we have = been an official territory, 20 years of that you have led your people to a brigh= ter future and prosperity that is evident and well-deserved. I know from where = we come.

As we = continue our journey into the next decades, good luck and congratulations. Mahsicho.<= /p>

Applause

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Ms. Hanson: On behalf of the Yukon New Democratic Party, I’m pleased to also join in marking the July 16, 20th anniversary of the signing of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in final and self-government agreement= s.

As pre= vious speakers, my colleagues, have indicated, the finalization of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in agreements was long, complex and challenging. In a process that spanned so many years, you can be assured th= at it is an understatement to say how challenging it was, because history has = not been kind to the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people. Perhaps nowhere else in the Yukon was the brutal impact of the Klondike Gold Rush f= elt more directly.

As a r= esult, when it came to finally work with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’= in First Nation to complete a key component of their final agreement land negotiations, there were huge challenges because, to an extent not seen elsewhere in Yukon, so much of their traditional territory had been taken a= nd torn apart by mining interests spanning, at the time of signing, almost 100 years.

In an = era of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as we look at the impacts of the assumptions underlying colonial history, it is hard to believe that government’s actions and laws, such as the free entry system still in place under the Quartz Mining Act <= /i>and the Placer Mining Act, effectiv= ely granted rights to people who inundated a region for a short time, granting rights that endured and prevailed over the rights of the indigenous occupan= ts and owners of the land. That, in short, was the dilemma faced by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.

The Kl= ondike Valley had been staked from end to end with placer claims, so finding a just resolution took ingenuity and time. It is to the credit of leaders like Chi= ef Percy Henry, Peggy Kormendy, Hilda Titus, Angie Joseph-Rear and Steve Taylor that the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’= in First Nation was, over time, able to work with representatives of numerous federal and territorial government ministers to finally achieve agreement in July 1998.

There = are many significant aspects of the Tr’= ;ondëk Hwëch’in Final Agreement. I agree with my colleague across t= he way. The establishment of the Tr’o-ju-wech’= ;in Heritage Site to recognize, protect, enhance and celebrate the Hän culture and history, while also recognizing = and respecting the non-aboriginal heritage aspects of the site related to the Klondike Gold Rush, represents an amazing spirit of generosity and compromi= se by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.

Another significant accomplishment of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in agreement was the creation and protection of the Tombstone Territorial Park. Twenty years on, Mr. Speaker, given the iconic stature of Tombstone, i= t is difficult to believe that achieving agreement on ensuring that this area wo= uld be protected as a co-managed, natural environment park would be so difficul= t. It was and is to the credit of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in = and the territorial government of the day that 11 years after the signing of th= e Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Final Agreement, the Tombstone Territorial Park Management Plan was signed.

Today = we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in final and self-government agreement= s, and we look forward to working with the citizens of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in as the roots of those agreements bear fruit over time.<= /span>

Applause

In recognition of World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month

Hon. Ms. Frost: I rise in the House today to acknowledge this month as Diabetes Awareness Mon= th and November 14 as World Diabetes Day. Diabetes Canada estimates that more = than 10 million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. With mo= re than 20 Canadians being newly diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day, chances are that diabetes affects you or someone you know.

To hel= p support those with diabetes, the chronic condition support program has partnered wi= th the Yukon Diabetes Education Centre, which is run out of Whitehorse General Hospital. They have collaborated to develop and run the diabetes wellness series. The diabetes wellness series consists of four education sessions th= at provide a wide range of information, including practical strategies for self-management, advice about medication and tips on healthy eating and physical activity. Sessions are offered in Whitehorse and in some rural Yuk= on communities. One course was also offered at the Kwanlin Dün Health Cen= tre earlier this year. This collaborated effort is a great example of our communities working together to assist Yukoners living with diabetes.

I also= want to pay tribute to the friends, family and other caregivers who support those w= ith diabetes, whether they are learning to cook healthier meals, driving loved = ones to exercise sessions or learning to check blood sugar levels and inject ins= ulin for their loved ones.

Lastly= , the Diabetes Education Centre will be hosting a build-your-own-parfait event in= the hospital cafeteria on November 21 as a fundraiser for Diabetes Canada. A nu= rse, a dietician and a certified diabetes educator will be on hand to answer questions. I encourage all Yukoners to stop by the event, ask questions and learn how to make a healthy yogurt snack.

Applause

 

Mr. Kent: I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Party Official Opposition to recognize November as Diabetes Awareness Month and today, November 14, as World Diabe= tes Day. I am honoured to deliver this tribute as I have had the privilege to m= eet a number of young Yukoners and their families who face type 1 diabetes, or = T1D, on a daily basis.

I have= spoken with the parents and families of these children whose lives have also been changed by the diagnosis of their loved one.

Every = day brings new challenges with what affects blood sugar levels. From too much sleep to= not enough sleep, to all foods, healthy or not, and exercise, there are a multi= tude of factors to consider.

I want= ed to share with the House the T1D footprint for one of my young constituents, a grade 6 student, Heidi Nash: 2,430 is the number that represents the days s= he has been living with type 1 diabetes; 1,385 hours of sleep lost; 13,668 fin= ger pricks; and 80 insulin pump site changes. When Heidi was diagnosed with T1D, her parents thought she was simply battling a flu. Colin and Jill Nash travelled to BC Children’s Hospital with Heidi, where they were educa= ted in just two and a half days on how to care for their daughter, who was sudd= enly facing a life-threatening autoimmune disease.

I woul= d like to share a few words from Jill — and I quote: “My daughter is a fighter and she thinks about her health and where her blood sugar is more t= han 15 times a day. I know this because we text constantly about it — how much insulin to take for snack, for lunch, how much to cut insulin back for= gym, recess, on and on. It’s way too much for any child.”

Like s= o many Yukoners, Heidi is lucky that there are so many of her family and friends w= ho are in her corner, helping her navigate this disease. I would like to also personally thank the Yukon T1D Support Network. The board members each have= a connection to the disease. Three are mothers of children with T1D, and one = is a type 1 diabetic herself and is fitted with a CGM, or continuous glucose monitoring machine. They work to provide education, advocacy and funding support to people living with T1D.

Their = efforts have led to two pilot programs. The first one provides children with CGM machines, and the other one, offered through the support network, covers a handful of CGM systems to youth aged 19 to 25. Their ultimate goal is to ha= ve CGM covered for all Yukoners with type 1 diabetes.

The gr= oup does many other things as well to support Yukon residents living with this disea= se. They hosted a diabetes expo here in Whitehorse this past May, attended a similar forum in Vancouver, produced an awareness video and hosted a camp at Tagish Lake for young Yukoners with T1D. They are some of the most dedicated and energetic volunteers I have ever had the opportunity to work with.

Finall= y, Mr. Speaker, we recognize today as World Diabetes Day in honour of Dr. Frederick Banting’s birthday. Dr. Banting was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1923 after discovering insulin in 1921.

We nee= d to remember that insulin is a treatment for diabetes and not a cure. This is t= he reason we continue to promote awareness and raise funds to search for a cure for this disease.

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Ms. White: I rise on behalf of the Yukon NDP caucus in recognition of today as World Diabetes Day. November is a month when those in our community who are affec= ted daily by diabetes share information to help educate and dispel myths. Diabe= tes is about the body’s ability, or lack of ability, to produce the requi= red amount of insulin to control glucose levels in the blood. Diabetes is all a= bout numbers. It’s about counting carbohydrates to determine how much insu= lin is required to cover food intake. It’s a never-ending task to manage = to keep oneself safe.

Today = I focus on type 1. Type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with lifestyle or diet. It’s not preventable. It is lifelong, and there is no cure. Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas does not produce any insulin. Nothing the per= son or parent did or did not do could have prevented the onset of type 1. No am= ount of healthy eating or exercise can stop the unknown trigger that causes the = body to mistakenly attack and destroy the insulin cells within the pancreas. No matter how hard they try as children or how they work as an adult, the blood glucose levels of a person with type 1 will not ever truly stabilize.

Life w= ith type 1 means good days, bad days, highs, lows, constant monitoring, insulin dosing, carb counting and adjusting. Managing type 1 involves more than taking shots and checking blood sugar. It is a complex balance of insulin dosage, exerci= se and carbs. Growth, illness, stress and changes in activity level, injection locations and many other factors can affect this balance. Continuous adjust= ment helps to maintain healthy glucose levels. For diabetics, insulin is the key= to health, but insulin is not a cure for diabetes. As we’ve heard, it’s just a treatment.

Since = the discovery of insulin in 1921, diabetes research has always been on the cutt= ing edge of science. The first continuous glucose monitor passed FDA testing in 1999, and advancements continue at lightning speeds. Diabetes is a disease,= and individuals and families should have equitable access to the health treatme= nt and options of their choice. A person’s ability to self-fund essential medical equipment like a continuous glucose monitor should not be the decid= ing factor on whether or not they are able to access one.

With t= he announcements of $25.6 million over four years to support innovation in Yukon’s health care system and $4.3 million of those dollars per year going toward innovations aimed at strengthening health systems and improving health outcomes, Yukon could be a leader in Canada by making this option available to all diabetics in the territory.

Applause

In recognition of Movember

Mr. Adel: I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Liberal government, the Official Opposition and the Third Party to pay tribute to Movember, the leading charity changing the face of men’s health by raising awareness and funding for innovative research on issues including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

The fo= undation works for men by funding innovative research for global and local impact. M= ore than 1,200 men’s health projects have been funded through this organization around the world in the past 15 years. The Movember Foundation aims to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25 percent= by the year 2030.

How do= es an idea grow from 30 friends in Australia to five million “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” around the world? It grows because it’s important to all of us that our loved ones take responsibility for their own health.

This i= nitiative is particularly important to me. My father was a survivor of prostate cancer due to early detection. I’m the father of three sons, and my involvem= ent in Movember has helped to initiate important conversations with them about men’s health issues.

We nee= d to ensure that men of all ages feel comfortable coming forward with their heal= th concerns and that they feel they have adequate support from their family and friends. Encouraging men to talk openly about their health and seek the appropriate treatment is why I’m offering this tribute today.<= /p>

Mental= health is another focus of Movember. One in 10 Canadian m= en will experience major depression over the course of their lives. Suicide is= the second largest killer of men between 15 to 29 years of age. Around the worl= d, we lose 60 men per hour to suicide.

You do= n’t need to grow a moustache to participate in Movember, as my esteemed colleague the Minister of Community Services is trying desperately over there to get done — and he’s doing a heck of a job. There are many ways to get involved.

This y= ear I am joining Movember by participating in the Make Y= our Move challenge. This challenge includes walking 60 kilometres over the cour= se of the month. This distance signifies the 60 men we lose to suicide each ho= ur.

If you= are interested in becoming involved or donating, you can visit movember.com to learn more about this initiative and all of the ways that you can support t= his great cause — join me, tell your friends and get involved for your lo= ved ones.

Applause

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Speaker: Are= there any returns or documents for tabling?

Are th= ere any reports of committees?

Are th= ere any petitions?

Are th= ere any bills to be introduced?

Are th= ere any notices of motions?

Notices of Motions

Mr. Hassard:&= #8195;I rise to give notice of the following motion:

THAT t= his House urges the Premier to move the motion for second reading of Bill No. 19= , Electoral District Boundaries Act, during the 2018 Fall Sitting.

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Mr. Cathers: I rise to give notice of the following motion:

THAT t= his House urges the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources to provide an update on t= he status of work to develop revised zoning regulations for the Shallow Bay ar= ea, including the date of the public meeting which was supposed to be held this fall.

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I also= give notice of the following motion:

THAT t= his House urges the Liberal government to provide clarity to potential purchasers of = the 20 lots in Grizzly Valley subdivision which are currently for sale via a la= nd lottery that closes today, November 14, 2018, by announcing whether or not school bus service will be provided into the subdivision.

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Ms. White: I rise to give notice of the following motion:

THAT t= his House urges the Government of Yukon to amend the Education Labour Relations Act to allow substitute teachers to join a union of th= eir choice.

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Speaker: Are= there any further notices of motions?

Is the= re a statement by a minister?

Ministerial Statement

Pacific Northwest Economic Region’s 2018 economic leadership forum=

Hon. Mr. Pillai: Mr. Speaker, the Pacific Northwest Economic Region’s 2018 economic leadership foru= m is taking place in Whitehorse this week. Members will recall that a year ago at this time, representatives from the organization visited Whitehorse to soli= dify plans for this week’s events. I am very pleased the organization took= my and my colleagues’ invitation to heart and d= ecided to host this year’s forum here in the Yukon. As the Minister of Econo= mic Development and Yukon’s lead delegate to the Pacific Northwest Econom= ic Region, I am happy to welcome delegates to the Yukon — in particular, Matt Morrison, the CEO of Pacific Northwest Economic Region.

The Pa= cific Northwest Economic Region was established in 1991 by the legislative leader= s of British Columbia, Alberta, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Y= ukon joined in 1994. The organization’s purpose is to increase the economic well-being of the northwest region, to facilitate policy cooperation and coordination in the region, to promote public and private sector communicat= ion and to leverage regional influence in Ottawa and Washington.

One of= the items that already came out of the conference is an invitation to meet with the Governor of Alaska in January in Juneau to discuss Shakwak and opportunities for economic cooperation.

The Pa= cific Northwest Economic Region is a non-partisan public/private partnership. It = is fantastic to have this network of support for the region’s economic development and a strong partnership model through which we can pursue mutu= ally beneficial policy goals. Regional business leaders, legislators and key decision-makers from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Yukon are attending the forum this week.

For th= e private sector, it is a chance to highlight priorities and work together with legislators and governments to achieve joint objectives. For the Government= of Yukon, the forum presents an excellent opportunity to introduce regional leaders to the territory’s economic advantages and our successes in growing and diversifying the economy.

As par= t of the activities over the next few days, delegates will tour the newly launched <= span class=3DSpellE>NorthLight Innovation. I know that they will be impre= ssed with the facilities available for entrepreneurs to access, support and grow their businesses.

They w= ill also have the opportunity to tour Yukon Brewing Company Ltd. and Air North, one = of the largest employers in the territory. The 2018 Economic Leadership Forum = also allows the Government of Yukon to progress its three priorities for the Pac= ific Northwest Economic Region: (1) support increased First Nation participation= in economic growth; (2) develop and grow in the innovation and knowledge econo= my; and (3) encourage economic diversification.

Discus= sions over the next few days will be enlightening, and I hope that they will spark new collaborations among public- and private-sector leaders. Delegates will exp= lore the impact of recent congressional and state elections on the United States= and Canada relationship, First Nation economic development and aboriginal touri= sm initiatives. They will learn about First Nation leadership and governance a= nd energy solutions in the north.

The fi= nal day of the Economic Leadership Forum will examine a wide range of topics, from PNWER’s role in combating tariffs to new opportunities in infrastruct= ure and transportation. Getting to know fellow delegates and strengthening professional networks are an important part of the conference.

In add= ition to the opening reception at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History, delegates wi= ll attend a video launch showcasing entrepreneurship in Yukon at a reception hosted by the Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce and Kwanlin Dün F= irst Nation. The 2018 Economic Leadership Forum is a great opportunity for the public/private sectors to connect and to discuss issues that are important = to the region.

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Mr. Istchenko: I rise today on behalf of the Official Opposition to respond to the Minister = of Economic Development’s ministerial statement.

I woul= d like to recognize the importance of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region and acknowledge the long-standing relationship between PNWER and the Government= of Yukon. There are many important issues facing our two countries, such as the renegotiation of NAFTA and the new USMCA trade deal. Of course, there is st= ill the outstanding issue with the tariffs on steel and aluminum that the United States has implemented as well as the tariffs that Canada issued in respons= e to those tariffs.

We hav= e heard a lot from local business here that they have concerns about those tariffs. T= he Official Opposition has written to the federal government to express our concerns over the impacts to local business on these tariffs, and we hope t= hat the Liberal government follows our lead soon and stands up for local busine= ss.

Anothe= r issue, of course, is Shakwak funding. This is an important topic as well and one t= hat is very important to both Yukon and Alaska. It is because of the important connection between the Yukon and Alaska that we are disappointed to hear fr= om the Premier that he had not met with the previous Governor of Alaska, but w= e do hope that he will get to meet with the new one. I think that is why PNWER i= s a great thing: It gives us that opportunity to grow the connections with other jurisdictions. Hopefully that means our governments can meet. PNWER can als= o be a vehicle to discuss the important issues that I referenced earlier.

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Ms. Hanson: On behalf of the Yukon New Democratic Party, I am pleased to respond to the ministerial statement today on the Pacific Northwest Economic Region leader= ship forum. I was pleased last night that my colleague and I from the NDP caucus= had the opportunity to attend the opening reception of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region 2018 Economic Leadership Forum and to meet with representat= ives from other governments as well as leaders from the private sector groups who were represented at this event.

The PN= WER event is occurring while we’re in the Legislative Assembly Sitting, but I k= now that a number of us will be attempting to sit in on sessions that are particularly apt and appropriate to some of the challenges that we are currently facing in the Yukon. I for one will be looking forward to trying = to attend the energy solutions in the north session that will be going on later today and which will be focusing on creative solutions in meeting the energy needs in the north. That session will be showcasing the benefits of projects such as the Vuntut Gwitchin project that they are doing in partnership with ATCO Electric Yukon, which is an innovative, high penetration solar/diesel storage project in Old Crow. I understand a number of delegates from PNWER = will be going to Old Crow to actually view this.

Anothe= r one that is particularly interesting given the announcement from the Northwest Territories about the $40‑million investment by the territorial government and federal government in Inuvik, with $40 million for wind — the presentation that will be done as part of this energy solutions= in the north is on piloting a wind-to-heat storage demonstration project ̵= 2; is particularly apt. The PNWER does offer those great opportunities.=

Tomorr= ow, there is a breakfast keynote plenary that I will be looking forward to which is focusing on innovative infrastructure. It is not that futuristic anymore. M= r. Bruce Agnew will be talking about the future of autonomous, connected and electric shared vehicles — all things that are not that far away for us here in the Yukon. PNWER has offered the opportunity for the public as well as elec= ted representatives to participate in these events, and we thank them for holdi= ng their meeting here this week.

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Hon. Mr. Pillai: Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate how delighted we a= re to welcome these business leaders, legislators and governments to Whitehorse f= or the 2018 Economic Leadership Forum. I would like to thank the MLA for Porter Creek Centre and his team and the staff from the Economic Development department as well as Albert Drapeau and his st= aff from the Yukon First Nation Chamber of Commerce for all of their good work = in putting this event together.

In res= ponse, I say to the Official Opposition, first, I appreciate that the Official Opposition took the opportunity that was afforded to all Canadians through = the online process of putting their concerns in, whether it be on the free trade agreement or on tariffs. We sit at a bilateral table where we have representation and we are key in those conversations, so we do have a bit o= f an opportunity to have a verbal dialogue as well as going back and forth supporting our tariffs, versus my colleague who would be submitting probabl= y on a public website or just sending a letter in — but all of that matter= s.

With t= hat dedication, I would ask my colleague from Kluane — I appreciate the f= act that there have been these many local companies that have reached out to him and his colleagues. PNWER is putting together a list of comments from businesses on their letterhead. I will have my executive assistant reach ou= t to the Member for Kluane this week, and we will give a respectful time period = for the member to gather those letters on behalf of the many individuals he lis= ted today in the House that have reached out to him so that we can work in conjunction.

Thank = you to the Third Party, of course, for being there with us last night — any opportunity to speak to American policy-makers is key. I know that there we= re a couple of previous Yukon Party ministers there who I recognized last night — Jim Kenyon as well as then-Minister Rouble — so they were the= re. We think we all did a good job of speaking. Any chance you can get to be th= ere this week before it is over, I think it would be good. Of course, we will be taking up the Shakwak invite and the opportunity to meet with the new gover= nor. This is all, of course, because of this event.

Just i= n closing, I was excited to see the announcement of the $40 million in Inuvik, but the devil is in the details. It is through the Arctic energy fund. I am not sure what the allotment has been to the Northwest Territories. I know that = the Yukon allotment is about $50 million. I would think that the Northwest Territories’ allotment is similar, which means that my good friend Minister Schumann has decided to use the majority of the Arctic energy fund= on one particular project — although it will offset up to something like three million litres of diesel on an annual basis.

Here we don’t just have one partner; we have nine partners who are all lookin= g to use that same fund. We are looking to diversity throughout the Yukon, not j= ust on one turbine. But I do congratulate them and I will look for more details= to bring forward to the House.

Thank = you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to brief Yukoners on this important event that is happening.

&= nbsp;

Speaker: Thi= s then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re: Carbon= tax

Mr. Hassard:&= #8195;Well, another day and another leaked document. This time it is a document contradicting the Premier on the carbon tax. Last week, the Premier told us= he was working with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce to develop a rebate for the trucking industry. According to the document that CBC reported on today, the chamber of commerce has stressed to the Liberals that they are not the lead= on this and that they are only one member of a larger committee. Further, that committee — and I will quote from the document: “… doesn’t want to be used as the entity that supported and approved the design of the Yukon government rebate.”

It loo= ks like the Premier has been misrepresenting the facts, so will he apologize and wi= ll he tell us how the rebate for the trucking sector will work?

Hon. Mr. Silver: We committed to working with the business community to rebate dollars from the federal carbon pricing, and this leaked document shows that work is in acti= on, and I want to give a shout-out to the chamber. We are doing our job of consulting. Sometimes we don’t do enough consultation according to the members opposite, and sometimes I guess we do too much.

There = are differences of opinion right now as far as options for a rebate model on the table — as you can see from this document, Mr. Speaker — so nothing has been decided. As you can also see in this document, there are o= ther areas such as the treatment of Yukon electrical utilities — that conversation, again — we are still waiting for some clarity from the federal government, but we are excited to be moving forward with that as we= ll.

We are continuing to gather information from the business community on the carbon-pricing rebate.

I won&= #8217;t speculate or pre-determine the outcome of this work, but I do want to give a shout-out to the low carbon stakeholder committee, made up of an impressive list of organizations, including the Association of Yukon Communities, Cold Climate Innovation research centre, the Klondike Placer Miners Association,= the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon, Yukon Agricultural Association, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, Yukon Conservation Society, Yukon Contractors Association — and it goes on and on.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, we made a commitment to rebate and to return all the money to Yukoners and we’re sticking by that commitment.

Mr. Hassard:&= #8195;Last week, the Premier told us that it was 90 percent done; now he says that not= hing is decided. It’s rather confusing for Yukoners.

On Oct= ober 31, regarding the carbon tax, the Premier said he had — and I quote: “Great conversations about how the cheques are going to get back into= the pockets of Yukoners…” Later that day, he said that the final details on how we’re going to get those cheques into the pockets of Yukoners will come. A minute later, he said that those cheques will be comi= ng. Shortly after that, the Premier said: I do appreciate Yukoners’ conce= rns as far as how we are going to get the cheque in the mail. Then he said R= 12; and I quote again: “… the Yukon Liberal Party — this government — can get those cheques in the mail…” ThatR= 17;s interesting, Mr. Speaker, because this leaked document from a meeting = that the Premier’s chief of staff was at, discussing the carbon tax rebate= s, says that they will not be distributed by cheque. So can the Premier tell us who we should believe?

Hon. Mr. Silver: My goodness, Mr. Speaker — yes, we are still waiting to find out how exactly those cheques are going to get in the mail. We commit to that and we will still see that. I stand by every single one of those statements. I don’t know what’s confusing to the member opposite. We’re working on options; we’re working with both the business community and individuals, and there will be cheques in the mail.

I don&= #8217;t really know necessarily what the big deal is to the members opposite other = than this leaked document. Again, they are relying their whole careers now on le= aked documents, which is fine by me.

At the= same time, we’re going to continue to work with businesses, we’re go= ing to continue to work with governments, and we’re going to continue to = work with the federal government, because we believe you need to put a price on carbon because we believe that man-made climate change is real. We want to = make sure that we have international and national governments working together to make sure that we actually do put a price on carbon and that we can actually maybe turn into a jurisdiction at the forefront of innovations and technologies, whereas the Yukon Party — well, they don’t even h= ave a plan, and they’re just criticizing ours. We have been at this table here in the Legislative Assembly talking about all the details that have co= me out as far as the rebate mechanisms, as far as working with the First Nation governments, the municipality governments and the placer miners.

The me= mbers opposite make it seem like they haven’t heard anything from all of the stuff that we have announced, but I guess it’s really hard to hear anything on carbon when your head is in the sand on carbon.

Mr. Hassard: As I said, the Premier has told us how it’s 90 percent done, and then he says that nothing is decided. He tells us that the cheques will be out, but= the document says that the rebate will be given via a tax credit in the followi= ng year, not as a cheque, so obviously the Premier is not up to date on his own files.

In ter= ms of the leaks, we have seen leaks with the Cabinet directive asking departments to = look for cuts. We have seen leaks about the mining industry concerns with the Quartz Mining Act and e‑mail= s from concerned employees at schools. Today, there’s a leaked document about the carbon tax. The newest leak states that the Premier’s staff met w= ith the chamber and the low carbon committee on August 13 and 29 to discuss the carbon tax design.

We do = know that we will have trouble ATIPPing the minutes from = that meeting, so would the Premier be open and transparent and provide those minutes, or do we have to wait for them to come in the form of a leak as we= ll, Mr. Speaker?

Hon. Mr. Silver: It’s easy to be confused if all you are doing is listeni= ng to the Yukon Party, because they take everything out of context.

I̵= 7;ll resay exactly what I said. There are options on the table for the rebate model th= at we’re discussing with the business community. So again, if the members opposite would actually listen as opposed to talking while I talk, they wou= ld hear that on that particular file nothing has been decided yet. If something was decided, we would be the first ones to be in the Legislative Assembly talking about the decisions —

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Speaker: Ord= er, please. The Premier has the floor.

Hon. Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker — talking about the decision= s that we’ve made with the business community.

Now, a= gain, this is us working in consultation with the Yukon business community. It is our rebate. We will be giving that rebate. We’re not looking for someone = to say that it’s their rebate. We’ve been very, very clear that the federal government collects the money, and we’ve been very clear that= we will be rebating 100 percent of that money back to Yukoners and Yukon businesses. We are going to make good on that commitment, and again, as opp= osed to having a conversation in here about the budget, what we have is a Yukon Party that relies on leaked documents, going on those things and trying to spark together these narratives based upon pieces of paper.

We wil= l continue to have a whole-of-government approach using our Cabinet committees and usi= ng our engagement and our stakeholders, and we will work on all of these files= for Yukoners because we said that we were going to rebate that money and we will rebate that money.

Question re: Carbon tax

Mr. Cathers: The Liberals were elected 737 days ago, and we still have no details on how the carbon tax rebates will work. This government’s inability to make a decision is their defining characteristic. When we ask how carbon tax rebat= es are going to work, the Premier says that we are waiting for Ottawa, or he points to the chamber and the low carbon committee.

Last w= eek an economist debunked the Premier’s first excuse. This week a leaked document states that the low carbon committee: “… doesn’t want to be used as the entity that supported and approved the design of the Yukon government rebate.” The leaked document states that the committ= ee doesn’t support the rebates, so that excuse of the Premier is debunked too.

 Either the Premier isn’t payi= ng attention to the file, or what he’s saying are falsehoods — to = be quite frank with you. Which is it?

Hon. Mr. Silver: If the member opposite was spending less time preening to the = camera and more time listening to the answers to the first question, he would have heard that, again, the majority of the decisions on carbon pricing and how we’re going to be rebating that money have been decided already. We’ve spoken at length — ad nauseam, almost — this year a= bout the carbon pricing in regard to mining, in regard to aviation —

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Silver: Again, the members off-mic want to talk when I’m talking because they don’t want to hear this. They don’t want to hear that the government here is working with First Nation communities. They don’t = want to hear that this government is working with the municipal communities, with the mining industry or with the agencies internationally that are saying th= at carbon pricing is the most cost-effective way of dealing with man-made clim= ate change.

So aga= in, we answered the questions. We said that we are committed to working with the business community to rebate the dollars from the carbon-pricing mechanism,= and this document shows this work in action. Again, we will continue to commit = to working on this.

I will= be very clear again — because we know how the Yukon Party likes to parse out = the parts of quotes that they like and not the other parts — that there a= re different options for a rebate model on the table, and so you can see from = the document that nothing has been decided on that yet. Again, once something g= ets decided from these conversations, I will be the first one ready, willing and quite able to make sure that Yukoners know how the money is going to be reb= ated to Yukoners and Yukon businesses.

Mr. Cathers: Unfortunately for the Premier, this is another area where his narrative falls apart when = you look at his own documents. The trucking industry and the aviation industry compete against each other in the delivery of freight. Last week, we asked = the Premier why he didn’t fight for a carbon tax exemption for the trucki= ng industry.

He was= quick to brag that he fought for one for the aviation industry, so it must be possib= le to get exemptions if you try hard enough — unless, of course, the Pre= mier is now changing his tune and saying that he took credit for something he actually had no role in. Will the Premier agree to send a letter to the fed= eral environment minister today asking that the trucking industry be exempt from= the Liberal carbon tax scheme?

Hon. Mr. Silver: What we do know is that the local businesses here will be part= of the rebate mechanism. What we do also know is that there is a low carbon stakeholder committee that is currently working to make sure that we take i= nto consideration the needs of businesses as we rebate this money. Again, the Y= ukon Party would make it seem like this money is not going to be rebated to a particular sector. They make it seem as if the transportation industry is n= ot going to be part of that rebate mechanism. That is simply not true, Mr.&nbs= p;Speaker.

But an= yway, again, we will continue to gather input from the business community on the carbon-pricing rebate. I won’t speculate or predetermine the outcome = of this work. Members of the Department of Finance have been meeting with this committee over the summer and into the fall, and those talks continue. I wa= nt to thank the members of this low carbon stakeholder committee. The other gr= oups that I did not mention include the Yukon Contractors Association, Yukon Fir= st Nation Chamber of Commerce and also the Yukon Wood Products Association. It= is great to have these conversations. When we come to this table, we come to it wanting to rebate 100 percent of the money to Yukoners. We also do not want= to grow government. Those are two things that I guess the Yukon Party is again= st, but we will continue to make good on that campaign promise.

Mr. Cathers: What we are basically hearing from the Premier is, how dare we remind him of the facts.

I have= a letter here signed by the Leader of the Official Opposition addressed to the feder= al environment minister asking her to please also exempt the Yukon’s trucking industry from the carbon tax. We left a blank signature spot for t= he Premier so he can co-sign it with us and show bipartisan support for our trucking industry. I will quickly read the letter for the Premier. It is ve= ry short and straightforward:

“= ;Thank you for granting northern aviation companies an exemption from the carbon tax. =

“= ;Given that aviation companies compete with Yukon’s trucking industry for the hauling of freight, we request that you please also exempt this industry in order to prevent any competitive disadvantages created as a result of this = new tax.”

Will t= he Premier agree to sign it?

Hon. Mr. Silver: I have not seen a day yet when the Yukon Party is actually wor= king with this government when it comes to how we are going to be rebating the m= oney to Yukon businesses and Yukon communities. So with all due respect to the members opposite, I am not going to be taking advice from an ex-government = that really had no plan on carbon and basically now wants to still drive this government from the backseat. Again, we think that we are on the right side= of history. We believe in carbon pricing as a mechanism to make sure that we c= an transition to a non-fossil-fuel future.

Maybe = our college — as it turns into a university — also can reap the benefits of the Cold Climate Innovation and the technologies, Northern Ligh= ts as well, and of YuKonstruct and the (co)space t= hat is developing there — also working forward on technologies as we transfer ourselves into a new era of a non-fossil-fuel future.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, we have made a commitment to businesses in the Yukon. We have made a commit= ment to individuals in the Yukon that we will rebate 100 percent of that money to Yukoners. We are thrilled with the work that we have done with the federal government to get the exemptions that we did get. We are very excited to be able to work with the placer miners to have a dollar-for-dollar rebate ther= e as well, but again, all of this falls on deaf ears because the Yukon Party is = not paying attention — with their heads in the sand when it comes to carb= on.

Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre phone system revenue

Ms. Hanson:&#= 8195;Last week, Members of the Legislative Assembly heard the independent inspector appointed by the Minister of Justice to conduct an inspection of Whitehorse Correctional Centre repeat his recommendation that the Corrections branch should stop charging clients for local phone calls. This would help to enha= nce ongoing connection between inmates, their families and their communities, critical to rehabilitation.

Can th= e minister tell this House how much is currently charged for a local call at Whitehorse Correctional Centre?

Hon. Ms. McPhee: I appreciate the question; I think it is an excellent question. It is certain= ly something that I have asked the department to look into. I have read all of= the recommendations, of course, of Mr. Loukidelis. I heard his comments in answer to a question here last week, and I do think that it is a situation = that requires us to look into it and get more information. I have asked for that, and I am happy to provide it to the member opposite when I receive it.

I thin= k it is important to note that the Whitehor= se Correctional Centre Inspection Report and all of the recommendations ma= de by Mr. Loukidelis have been turned over to an implementation working group, and that group is currently working. That is one of the recommendati= ons that they need to address.

Ms. Hanson: To be fair, I didn’t expect the minister to know the answer. The answer = is $2.40 for a local call, Mr. Speaker. That is because Whitehorse Correctional Centre has contracted its phone services to a Texas-based comp= any called Synergy. Synergy provides the phone system as well as the payment ki= osk for families who want to deposit money in an inmate’s account. As you= can imagine, this all comes with a hefty administrative fee for inmates and the= ir families. The company’s website reads — and I quote: “Synergy provi= des secure, state-of-the-art inmate communication technology as well as ways to help our clients create new revenue.” Mr. Speaker, the client he= re is the Yukon government.

Does t= he minister think it is appropriate for the government to create new revenue by putting up a barrier for inmates to contact their family and their communit= y?

Hon. Ms. McPhee: Again, I appreciate the question. I think these are exactly the kinds of questions that the testimony of Mr. Loukidelis raised for me as well. The depart= ment is looking into that and how we provide that service. Again, it is a recommendation from the Correctional Centre review by Mr. Loukidelis, = and it will be addressed not only by my questions — and I am happy to pro= vide those answers to the member opposite — but also by the implementation working group and the work that they are doing on implementing those recommendations.

Ms. Hanson:&#= 8195;Actually, in the last question, I was not asking for the department’s views; I = was asking for the minister’s views. We do appreciate that some of the fu= nds generated are going to the victim services trust, but it doesn’t chan= ge the fact that charging $2.40 for a local call prevents inmates from contact= ing their families, their counsellors and other supports. This doesn’t he= lp rehabilitation. That is why Mr. Loukidelis recommended that inmates and their families shouldn’t be charged for phone calls.

The government’s contract with Texas-based Synergy doesn’t cost anything to Whitehorse Correctional Centre, which means the company keeps a share of the revenue — but so far, we haven’t been able to find= out how much the company keeps.

Can th= e minister tell this House how much money Synergy is making on the backs of inmates an= d their families? Will the minister commit to implementing Mr. Loukidelis’s recommendation to stop charging for phone calls at Whitehorse Correctional Centre — not put it off, but actually stop it now?

Hon. Ms. McPhee: I am going to assume that since the member opposite didn’t expect me to know the answer to the first question, she will not actually expect me to k= now the answer to the third. But I will repeat the fact that it is something I = have asked for — the information that I have requested — and that it= is one of the recommendations.

I thin= k I will take an important opportunity to remind the members of this House as well a= s to remind Yukoners that the only instruction given to the implementation worki= ng group is: Tell us how, get the information and determine how best to implem= ent the recommendations from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre review done by = Mr. Loukidelis so that we can improve services — improve the services at the Whiteho= rse Correctional Centre and, more particularly, improve the services to inmates= .

Question re: Resource Gateway project

Mr. Kent:Q= 95;Yesterday we asked the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources to tell us when construction for the Resource Gateway roads project will begin. Unfortunate= ly, he was unable to provide a very clear answer.

By way= of background for everyone, the federal government approved the project in June 2017. Further, according to the federal government — and this is quot= ing from the government’s website — the forecasted construction date was supposed to be June 1 of this year. It’s pretty clear, Mr. S= peaker — the forecasted construction date.

This w= ould have been the date that the Liberals would have told the federal government that they could have shovels in the ground. Now that they have missed this deadl= ine by five and a half months, is the minister able to give us a date for when construction will start so that the Government of Canada can update its website?

Hon. Mr. Pillai: Of course, the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources ̵= 2; as we spoke to yesterday — continues to work with Highways and Public Wo= rks and the directly affected First Nations to achieve project agreements to proceed with the Yukon Resource Gateway program.

I woul= d look at this project as three separate entities. I would say, first of all, that wh= en it comes to the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation portion of the project, which is a bypass into the community, there is some significant geotechnical work that needs to be done. Of course, we have an agreement in place. We ha= ve to go through a YESAA process for the geotechnical work. I will leave it to= my colleague. I know the departments are looking at how they can maybe compress the applications but, of course, still respecting the process with YESAA. <= /span>

As for= the other two projects, we have been in very fluid conversations with the Liard First Nation. We continue to look at phase 1 of that project. There have been good negotiations happening, and we are moving toward agreement. In many of those cases, there will not need to be significant environmental processes becaus= e, in some cases — and I think the member opposite would remember that i= t is for upgrades to existing roads and some of that important work. It’s = the same in the goldfields area as well.

Of cou= rse, some of the additional work in that third portion as it goes into the Coffee Gol= d is still going through an environmental process that is part of the larger package. I will leave questions 2 and 3 to my colleague for Highways and Pu= blic Works.

Mr. Kent: What we do know is that the construction start date is now five and a half months late, and the minister can’t tell us when he believes that constructi= on will start.

Import= ant work that could be happening now is on the engineering side of things. Can the minister tell us if the engineering work has started on the project? How lo= ng does he anticipate that to take?

Hon. Mr. Mostyn: I am happy to revisit this issue this afternoon. We did have a conversation yesterday about this. I am more than happy to come back to it again today. =

The me= mber opposite has said work hasn’t started — that’s not true. I said it yesterday; I’ll say it again. Perhaps the members opposite don’t consider planning as part of the job, but planning is certainly part of the job. We’re not doing things fast and loose over here. We = are actually going through in a methodical way and planning out the three phase= s of this project on Gateway.

Gatewa= y work has begun within the Department of Highways and Public Works. Engineering, the YESAA process — we’re looking at a drill program that’s g= oing to be underway in the Little Salmon Carmacks region. So there’s an aw= ful lot of work on this project going on, Mr. Speaker, so Yukoners can rest assured that this project is proceeding. It’s something we have done because we are working very closely with our First Nation partners. That’s something that’s new to the members opposite, but that’s what we vowed to do; that’s what we are doing. We are wo= rking very closely with them. We’re making sure that we don’t proceed without their agreement. That’s what we committed to the federal government as part of the Gateway project; that’s what we’re do= ing. We’re more than happy to continue working with our First Nation partn= ers and getting this project going.

Mr. Kent: So the construction date is five and a half months late. The minister can̵= 7;t tell us when construction will start. He can’t even tell us definitiv= ely if the engineering has been started. Again, the federal government website stated — and the date is yesterday morning at 11:30 — that construction was supposed to have started on June 1 of this year, with a forecast construction end date in March 2024.

Again,= Mr. Speaker, we asked this yesterday, but will ask again: Since the minister is unable to provide us with any updates on construction conclusion or engineering, can = he at least tell us when the project will be submitted for environmental review and how long he anticipates that review to take?

Hon. Mr. Pillai: As I stated to the question, the member opposite is asking specifically as if this would be submitted as one project. There are multip= le phases to different areas of the road.

What I= will say is that this is another file where what we’re getting is split hairs = on which month this is going in or “what’s the update on this̶= 1;, but the reality is that it’s another project from the “didnR= 17;t get it done” pile. We showed up; there was an application; we’r= e working with the application that the previous government submitted.

Do you= know when it will get done? It will be when we have a respectful agreement in place w= ith our partners. That’s when it will get done. You know what? If you go = back to the court case and the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars the previous government spent because they didn’t figure that out — when we have a respectful agreement in place with our partners, we will bui= ld the roads in partnership with them. That’s when it’s going to g= et done. I’m not going to allude to anything until we have those agreeme= nts. We have one agreement in place. Your team is doing a great job, but that’s how you get it done.

Just l= ike we picked up the fibre project — we’ll also get that one done. I k= now our friends across the way like to make announcements on stuff that they didn’t get out the door, but the work is being done. Anybody who has = been involved or has the background in project management would understand that project open and the front-end scoping is a very important part of it versu= s the willy-nilly, and then you get into problems like we have seen in the past.<= /span>

Question re: Tourism development strategy

Ms. Van Bibber: On October 22, the Minister of Tourism and Culture stated that tourism has plateaued a little bit in terms of increase in the GDP. She used this statement to justify the new tourism strategy which includes a recommendation to create a new government agency.

This s= tatement jumped out at us because there was a bit of difference from what we had hea= rd. We went back and looked at the annual tourism report that the minister tabl= ed in the House in March. According to the revenues, sales and visitation, all= are up. I assume the minister has the information to back up the statement. Can= the minister provide us with the information that shows tourism has plateaued? =

Hon. Ms. Dendys: I thank the member opposite for the question. Yes, I am happy = to stand and talk about tourism today. I did make that statement because the tourism GDP has been around the same mark for many years. Right now, what we’re doing with the development of a new Yukon tourism development strategy that hasn’t been done — a new plan hasn’t been in place for 18 years — is that we’re taking tourism to the next level. We know that we have an opportunity where tourism has been performin= g at that kind of equal level for a while. Yes, last year we had a very good yea= r, and we want to take advantage of that and bring it to the next level, which= is why we put together an all-partners, all-stakeholders tourism development s= trategy committee.

WeR= 17;re working with them. They have worked very hard over the last year and a few months to develop a draft tourism development strategy, and we’re loo= king forward to having that in our hands soon. We’ll analyze that on our s= ide when we have that, explore all of the options that are being put forward and move forward on a new tourism development strategy for Yukon.

Ms. Van Bibber: The minister justified a new tourism strategy that includes a recommendation for a new government agency by stating that tourism has plateaued or stayed the same. All we are asking is for the minister to prov= ide us with information to back up her statement. What was the tourism’s contribution to the GDP last year?

Hon. Ms. Dendys: Thank you for the supplementary question. The GDP for last year was 4.4 percent. I have stated that in the House. Tourism represents 3,500 good-paying jobs in Yukon and, in fact, we’re in the highest in Canada. We’re the second highest GDP attributed to tourism in Canada.

What I= have said in this House — and I will probably say it many more times — is that tourism has been performing well and it has been at a pretty level percentage over the last several years. We want to take advantage of that. Tourism has been up in Canada — the numbers are up. We haven’t = had a new plan in 18 years.

Workin= g with all of our partners, taking into consideration self-government and all of the opportunities that we have with Yukon First Nation governments and with all= of our partners throughout the entire territory, we have an opportunity to take tourism to the next level, which is the whole premise of this new draft tou= rism development strategy, and we will be happy to have this in place soon.

Ms. Van Bibber: The minister made the statement that tourism has plateaued in = the territory, and I assume this is based on a briefing note. We were just aski= ng for the minister to provide us the information to demonstrate to us that in= deed tourism has plateaued, like she stated.

This i= nformation would be very helpful to us as we discuss the important issue of tourism. A= s we have stated, the annual tourism report the minister tabled seemed to contra= dict her, but we do look forward to her providing the information to back up her claim.

Can th= e minister also provide us with an analysis that shows how the new government agency w= ill increase tourism’s contribution to the GDP?

Hon. Ms. Dendys: I think I stated very clearly in my previous statements the ne= ed that we have in the Yukon for a new plan that takes into consideration all = of the new opportunities that we have in Yukon. We are looking forward to developing indigenous and cultural tourism. We are looking forward to taking advantage of winter tourism. We had a great summit last year that fed into a new draft tourism development strategy that has brought together many, many Yukoners — many business owners and industry from across the territory — who worked hard to look at the shoulder season and to look at the winter season. We have tremendous opportunity in the Yukon to take tourism = to a whole new level.

What w= e have done with this draft tourism strategy is that we talked to Yukoners — 12,000 comments were gathered. The tourism strategy committee worked very h= ard. We had 15 members from all across the industry who worked very, very hard on putting together a plan that is for Yukoners. It is not a Yukon government strategy. This is a Yukon tourism development strategy, and I cannot emphas= ize that enough.

I am v= ery proud of the work that we have done on this and I am looking very forward to havi= ng it in my hands soon.

&= nbsp;

Speaker: The= time for Question Period has now elapsed.

Introd= uction of visitors outside of the time provided.

Introduction of Visitors

Ms. Ha= nson: I would ask my colleagues= to join me in welcoming Jessica Lott Thompson, director of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, to the Legislative Assembly this afternoon.

Applause

Orders of the Day

Opposition Private Members’ Business

Motions other than Government Motions

Clerk:̳= 5;Motion No. 330, stan= ding in the name of Ms. Hanson.

Speaker:= 195;It is moved by the Leader= of the Third Party:

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to strengthen the independence of the Yukon Human Rights Commission by making the commission an office of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.

 

Ms. Ha= nson: I thank all the me= mbers for participating in this conversation this afternoon. Mr. Speaker, th= is motion is brought forward as something that is not new. <= /p>

During the course of the conversation = this afternoon, I hope to lay out a bit of a background as to why the Yukon NDP believes that we do, as Members of this Legislative Assembly, finally need<= /span> to act on recommendations that go back a very long time with respect to strengthening the independence of the office of the Human Rights Commissioner — the office of the Human Rights Commission — by making the commission an Officer of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. I note there is a nuance, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the way the motion is writ= ten. It says “office”, and it’s intended to mean “officer”. The intent really is to provide the Yukon Human Righ= ts Commission the status of an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly= .

ItR= 17;s important to keep in mind that the Yukon Human Rights Commission was established 31 years ago, in 1987. At the time, it was groundbreaking legislation. The Human Rights Act states its objectives are: “(a) to further in the Yukon the public po= licy that every individual is free and equal in dignity and rights; (b) to discourage and eliminate discrimination; (c) to promote recognition of the inherent dignity and worth and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, these being principles underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other solemn undertakings, international and national, which Canada honours.”

I think it’s important, Mr. Speaker, to repeat these publicly, because sometimes we forget that the Human Rights Commission is more than a place f= or individuals to take their complaints or concerns. It is vital that the work= of the Human Rights Commission be given the independence and resources to cond= uct the business of the commission independent of government.

Approv= al of this motion would require — would absolutely require — amendments to= the legislation to bring it in line with other offices of the Legislature, including the Ombudsman, the Child and Youth Advocate and the Chief Elector= al Officer. But, Mr. Speaker, the discussion around this is not new. I th= ink that’s why it should be so simple for this Legislative Assembly to co= me to an agreement this afternoon with respect to this motion.

The “how” that we employ to achieve it will be up to the government= , of course, in terms of implementing the necessary legislative amendments, but it’s the will of this Legislative Assembly that I’m looking for this afternoon. I’m looking to the expression of the will of this government and all members of this Legislative Assembly to express that we = do believe that the Human Rights Commission not only needs to be perceived to = be independent of government, but that it must be by design and by legislation independent of government.

In Oct= ober 2007, 20 years after the human rights legislation was passed, a private member, D= on Inverarity, Liberal Member for Porter Creek Centre, introduced a private member’s bill to amend the Yukon human rights legislation. Unfortunately, it didn’t get very far. Debate was adjour= ned about a month after he introduced it; however, the Legislative Assembly of = the day determined that it would appoint by motion a select committee on human rights. That was Motion No. 374, and it would refer that private member’s bill and other matters with respect to the Human Rights Act to a select committee.

The le= ad for the all-party select committee of this Legislative Assembly was appointed in October 2007. It included: Marian Horne, Yukon Party, Pelly-Nisutlin; Don&n= bsp;Inverarity, Liberal, Porter Creek Centre; and Steve Cardiff, NDP, Mount Lorne. The independent select committee reported back to the Legislative Assembly in November 2008 — 10 years ago. They heard submissions from over two dozen individuals, and they held hearings.=

I just= thought that I would spend a little bit of time going through a couple of those findings and one of those submissions, as well as a few other matters with respect to how often this very same issue has been debated and discussed in this Legislative Assembly and why it should not be a matter of any contenti= on, that we should be simply coming to an agreement on this matter.

On Oct= ober 17, 2008, the Yukon Human Rights Commission, in its submission to the select committee on improving the Human Ri= ghts Act, made a recommendation and noted some comments made by the committee — and I will come back to that section. They made a comment with resp= ect to part 3, section 16(1) of current act, which provides that “There s= hall be a Yukon Human Rights Commission accountable to the Legislative Assembly = and the commission shall…” The Human Rights Commission pointed out = in October 2008 that there is no mention of how the commission is to be funded. They recommended a change to the legislation — and I am not prescribi= ng or suggesting that the language that the Human Rights Commission proposed 10 years ago is the correct approach, Mr. Speaker. What I am suggesting is that what they were seeking to achieve was an independence from the current arrangement.

Perhap= s I should step back one moment. We recognize — and all members of this Legislat= ure do recognize — that the Yukon Human Rights Commission does report to = the Legislative Assembly, but for financial purposes and for funding purposes, = they are treated as a part of the Department of Justice — a government department, Mr. Speaker. There is no perception of independence from t= he functions of a government department.

In ord= er to address that 10 years ago, the Human Rights Commission had recommended that= a new section be added to the legislation that would say, “The Commission s= hall submit annually to the Members’ Services Board in respect of each financial year, an estimate of the sum that will be required to be provided= by the Legislative Assembly to defray the expenses of the Commission in that financial year.” The second part of that would be: “The Members’ Services Board shall review the estimate submitted pursuant = to subsection (1) and, on completion of the review, the Speaker shall transmit= the estimate to the Minister of Finance for recommendation to the Legislative Assembly.” In response to the question “why”, the Human Rights Commission said: “The proposed change is the same as the fundi= ng provision in the Yukon’s Ombu= dsman Act. This change would allow the commission to have and maintain a fundamental arm’s-length relationship with the Department of Justice. Currently the Commission submits a budget each year to the Department of Justice. The Commission’s funding is a line item within the Departmen= t of Justice’s budget…” — equal at that time, according = to the submission of October 17, 2008, to approximately one percent of the department’s overall budget.

The co= mmission said, “The Department of Justice has the potential of being a respond= ent in human rights complaints and also lawyers from the Department of Justice represent other departments which have human rights complaints filed against them. Currently, there is no provision in the Act about how the commission is to be funded. Some members of t= he public have told the Commission that they do not perceive the Commission as neutral, due to the current funding arrangements.” That was part of t= he submission made by the Human Rights Commission to the Select Committee on H= uman Rights in 2007-08.

When t= he Select Committee on Human Rights made its report in November 2008, their concluding statement or paragraph was that: “While the Yukon’s Human Rights Act was viewed as cutting-edge legislation across Canada at the time it was passed…R= 21; — and at that time, it was 21 years ago; it is now 31 years ago ̵= 2; “… the Select Committee believes the Act now needs to be review= ed and updated.”

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, I am simply echoing that recommendation. It needs to be reviewed and updated with respect to the independence of the office of the Human Rights Commissi= on. “The Committee…” — they said — “… feels that the primary purpose of the Act is, and should remain, to protect= the rights of all Yukoners.”

In the= ir detailed recommendations, they made recommendation 25: “Section 16: R= ole of Commission — Funding”. They outlined the considerations. They found within their discussion items — they said, as I had outlined in= the current section 16(3) and 16(4), that because it’s within the Departm= ent of Justice, it’s viewed as too close and too controlling.

In 201= 0, the Department of Justice issued a discussion paper and asked for submissions on modernizing the human rights system in Yukon. That was in October 2010, I believe. The Yukon Human Rights Commission made a submission on the discuss= ion paper — the discussion paper being Modernizing the Human Rights System in Yukon — and submitted it on October 8, 2010 — eight years ago.

The Hu= man Rights Commission, in its introduction — and this paper was submitted by the chair of the Human Rights Commission. At that time, the chair’s name = was Melissa Atkinson. She indicated — and I’m quoting: “̷= 0; I welcome improvements to the human rights system. An important aspect of law reform is keeping pace with change…”

Furthe= r, she says — and I quote: “The Commission believes there must be bett= er funding for the education component of its mandate and work. In terms of effectiveness, it is also important to ensure that the Commission’s funding is adequate to carry out its full mandate in a timely and efficient= way and at arm’s length from government.”

The Ch= air of the Human Rights Commission in 2010 further said, “To achieve this, the Commission has repeatedly stated that its funding should be dealt with by t= he Member Services Board of the Legislative Assembly and not through the Department of Justice, which is a respondent in some complaints and also the department which provides legal advice and representation to government respondents on various other human rights complaints.”

I have= to say that it looks like the Department of Justice, in reviewing and asking for i= nput on modernizing the human rights system in Yukon, actually did provide to the respondents in advance some discussion papers to guide them in providing th= eir input. These five expert papers provided by the Department of Justice were considered by the Human Rights Commission to be very helpful, including one called “Balancing Accountability and Independence of Human Rights Agencies” by the expert panelist Lorne Sossin. The commission referred to a number of these papers throughout its submissi= on.

I̵= 7;ll note, Mr. Speaker, that the submission made by the Human Rights Commission regarding this consultation process was detailed. It was very thorough, and= I think that it merits consideration by Members of the Legislative Assembly as they dwell on the fact that various chairs of the Human Rights Commission a= nd various constructs of membership of the Human Rights Commission over the pa= st 31 years have identified this as a significant issue in terms of their abil= ity to deliver on the objects and the objectivity of the Human Rights Commissio= n as contemplated by Members of this Legislative Assembly when establishing the Human Rights Commission.

As I m= entioned, there were five papers that had been circulated by the Department of Justice with these various thematic aspects to them. One was on funding and financi= al accountability, so the question was: Do the existing processes by which the Yukon Human Rights Commission and tribunal are funded strike an appropriate balance between independence and accountability? The response by the Human Rights Commission was: “In the Commission’s view the current arrangements for funding the Commission do not strike an appropriate balance between accountability and independence.” The commission, they said, “… is a statutory body created by the Legislature or the legislative branch. It is not created by government (often referred to as t= he executive branch in Canadian constitutional law). Although the Justice discussion paper…” — and here they are referring to the discussion paper that I was mentioning earlier. It says that human rights commissions are created by governments for the purpose of implementing government policy. This is not true in the Yukon. It is also worth noting t= hat typically the commission’s legislative mandate does not change as governments come and go.

From t= his response to the request from the Department of Justice by the Human Rights Commission on October 10, 2010, it says, “Financial Accountability — Under the requirements of the = Human Rights Act, the Commission r= eports to the Legislature every year by tabling its annual report which becomes pa= rt of the public record. The Commission’s financial statements are always included: they are the result of a review of the Commission’s books b= y an accountant each year which is produced in its entirety in the annual report. The report is also available on our website and in accessible formats throu= gh the Commission office. In this way, the Commission is financially accountab= le to both the Legislature and the Yukon public about the public money it has spent, as it should be.”

The co= mmission further went on to talk about the lack of financial independence: “The Commission is not required under the Human Rights Act to report to any part of the Government, including the Department of Justice. However, currently, the Commission is required to ob= tain its funding from a contribution agreement with the Department of Justice. T= he Commission has explained throughout this past decade…”— w= hich is now two decades — “… to the Justice Department that (1) there is no requirement for this in the Human Rights Act, which is paramount over all other Yukon acts, including the= Financial Administration Act and t= hat (2) in the Commission’s view the current arrangements impair the independence of the Commission in terms of public perception.”=

That i= s a theme that recurs over and over again — impairing the independence of the Commission in terms of public perception. The Commission went on to talk ab= out the nature of the problem: “The Commission investigates and deals with complaints against the Government, including those against the Department of Justice. In addition, the Department of Justice typically provides lawyers = to represent the various government departments in responding to complaints against them, either as an employer or service provider.”

The Hu= man Rights Commission reflected on the select committee. I made reference already to t= he select committee that was appointed in October 2007 and reported in November 2008, so we are now at a consultation paper two years later by the Departme= nt of Justice on the Select Committee on Human Rights — modernizing the = Human Rights Act — and the Y= ukon Human Rights Commission, in response to that consultation — you can s= ee why some people might begin to wonder at what point government ever takes an action, because we are just going to keep putting things off for 20 or 30 years. However, they do reflect on the select committee’s recommendat= ion that the committee not be funded through Justice. So they say: “The Select Committee on Human Rights, a body set up by the Legislature, not the government, and made up of members of Legislature, recommended unanimously = that the Commission’s funding be removed from the Department of Justice.” The discussion paper that the Department of Justice put for= ward — they don’t say why, nor does the committee’s report, ot= her than to say it is too close.

 “However, two members of the = Select Committee both spoke on this issue in the Legislature on March 30, 2009, wh= en the Minister of Justice tabled amendments to the Human Rights Act. MLA Don Inverarity” — the Liberal MLA from Porter Creek Centre said — and I quote: “‘The issue is one of transparency and… it’s import= ant that… we move toward trying to move the funding arrangement for the Y= ukon Human Rights Commission out of the Department of Justice and perhaps into t= he Yukon Legislative Assembly, much like some of the other boards we have.R= 21; Eight years later — that is not so bad.

As jus= t about the last point from this submission by the Human Rights Commission on Octob= er 8, 2010 — and I will quote what the commission’s position is: “The Commission recommended in its submission to the Select Committee that it should be funded through the Member Services Board of the Legislature…” So they have already said this to the select committee, but now they are being asked again by the Department of Justice = in another consultation, round two, three years later. They are reiterating th= at “… it should be funded through the Member Services Board of the Legislature, just as the Ombudsman is — another statutory decision-ma= ker which must be independent and must be seen to be independent of government = and with a mandate to investigate government. There is no explanation in the Justice discussion paper…” — which I referenced earlier — so these five papers that were circulated as part of the discussion around modernizing the legislation. There was no discussion in those papers= as to why the Ombudsman and child advocate have direct financial accountabilit= y to the Legislature while the commission does not.

The co= mmission told the select committee and the Department of Justice that some members of the public, including parties to complaints, have told the commission that = they do not perceive it as neutral because of the current funding arrangements. = In the past several years — so this is prior to 2010 — this issue = has been formally raised in written submissions by complainants in several case= s as a legal issue.

The re= ference that I made to those five papers — there was reference made by Mary Cornish in her paper commissioned by the Department of Justice as part of t= his consultation in modernizing the Hum= an Rights Act, which was about building a culture of equality through human rights enforcement. Again, this was part of the consultation that was given to the respondents to comment on. She pointed out in her expert paper — she = says at page 4: “… with the government often the respondent in human rights complaints, funding and appointments must be structured so as to ens= ure the independence and expertise of human rights institutions.” This is= a paper commissioned by the Government of Yukon, by the Department of Justice, and she is saying exactly what the Human Rights Commission has been saying.=

The Hu= man Rights Commission’s paper — and I commend it to the Members of the Legislative Assembly, because it actually is very thorough and gives a fair amount of background on a number of situations that have occurred in case l= aw elsewhere that might be informative in helping us to understand how they ca= me to this very same conclusion as some of the experts commissioned by the Department of Justice but, so far, not acted on by subsequent governments.<= /span>

They p= oint out again that the Human Rights Act= is silent on the question of how the commission is to be funded and said that = this should be clarified.

The co= mmission in summary then said, “The Yukon Commission believes, as do many Yuko= ners who expressed their views in the Phase 1 consultation, that to do its work fairly and in a way that inspires public confidence in its independence, its funding should not come through a government department, but rather directly through the Legislature or through a standing committee of the Legislature = like the Member Services Board.”

There = has been a fair amount of work done by and on behalf of this Legislative Assembly thro= ugh the Department of Justice in repeated submissions of the Yukon Human Rights Commission and others, including a select committee of this Legislative Assembly that found findings in line with this motion today, which is simpl= y a motion that the Yukon Human Rights Commission be an independent office of t= he Legislative Assembly.

I thin= k it is really worth bearing in mind that, while these reports and these various studies were going on, it is not an academic exercise, although I quoted fr= om a number of reports from academics and legal experts who had been commissione= d by the government, by the Department of Justice in reviewing aspects of modernizing the human rights legislation. The fact of the matter is that, on the ground, there has been conflict. The Yukon Human Rights Commission is n= ot making up an abstract notion about the potential for conflict or perception= of conflict between the independent role of the Yukon Human Rights Commission = and the Department of Justice. We have seen that manifest time and time again, particularly as it relates to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, I will just refer you to a couple of issues. On September 9, 2014, the Whitehorse Daily Star reported: “The Yukon Human Rights Commission has asked its members to refer hum= an rights complaints at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre to its board of adjudication for hearing, condemning the Department of Justice’s rece= nt claim that the commission doesn’t have jurisdiction to investigate.

“= ;A lengthy letter sent last week…” — so this is the week prior to September 9, 2014 — “… by the commission’s lawyer to the department calls…” — the Department of Justice’s — “… position ‘narrow’ and ‘completely wrong,’ citing pages of case law to show it does indeed have the authority to investigate complaints.”

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, that’s the kind of thing we are talking about here. I don’t wan= t to get into the “he said, she said” of the Department of Justice a= nd Human Rights Commission, but if there is a perception that somebody’s human rights are being trampled or subsumed or that the Human Rights Commis= sion cannot investigate because their funder says they don’t have the authority to do so, that’s not a great perception.

The de= partment has said that the Investigations and Standards Office — which we hear= d a lot about last week with the independent inspector Mr. Loukidelis R= 12; the ISO, a body established under the Corrections Act, is the appropriate venue for allegations of human rights abuses. N= ow, didn’t Mr. Loukidelis last week say we should not be having peop= le from inside the organization making those kinds of assessments?

WeR= 17;re all probably sadly quite familiar with some of the circumstances — some m= ore than others, depending on what access you’ve had to court documents — with the situation of Michael Nehass. M= ichael Nehass’s father filed a complaint on beha= lf of his son, and I’m quoting here — “… who was brought naked and shackled before a judge via video camera from the jail for a case management conference earlier…” in 2014.

The De= partment of Justice said that the Human Rights Commission didn’t have the auth= ority to investigate because the Human Ri= ghts Act states that where an alternative exists, regardless of whether it is accessed, the commission shall not investigate the complaint. It suggests t= hat because inmates can also go to the territory’s Ombudsman with human rights complaints or address them in court, the commission lacks jurisdicti= on. The human rights lawyer wrote that it would have the absurd result of leavi= ng inmates without a forum in which to air their allegations of discrimination, contrary to the intentions of the Legislature that ensures all persons be a= ble to access human rights legislation.

“= ;It’s the perception that that interpretation of the act not only limits the righ= ts of Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, but prevents them from having the same rights as other citizens simply because they’re incarcerated,= 221; said the lawyer for the Human Rights Commission. So there’s a percept= ion that has become, I think, quite widely established in this community that it’s the Yukon government’s desire — and I hope it’s not this Yukon government’s desire — to keep everything that happens at Whitehorse Correctional Centre inside its internal processes, processes created under the Correct= ions Act.

That&#= 8217;s not what I heard this minister say, and I’ve seen her demonstrate her commitment to having the inspection done — as the tool that she had available to her — of the conditions at Whitehorse Correctional Centre with respect to, in particular, the mental health and solitary confinement issues.

But as= long as the Human Rights Commission is perceived to be kept under the thumb of the Department of Justice, the public perception will be that it is not wholly independent, and that, I believe, does a disservice to the framers of this legislation and to the many hundreds of people who participated in the discussions 31 years ago when this legislation was first brought forward as groundbreaking legislation; but it didn’t end in 2014.

In Jan= uary 2015, the Department of Justice decided — and I am quoting here from the Whitehorse Star on January 30, 201= 5: “The Department of Justice intends to have a judge review the Yukon H= uman Rights Commission’s decision to investigate human rights complaints f= rom inmates at the Whitehorse jail...” The letter states that “R= 30; the department will be seeking judicial review of jurisdiction — that’s whether the commission has the authority to investigate human rights complaints at the Whitehorse Correctional…” institution. Here we have the Department of Justice, which is ostensibly not supposed to= be involved with the Human Rights Commission in terms of giving it direction or controlling it, but effectively is controlling it. Would we, as Members of = this Legislative Assembly, countenance that kind of behaviour by any government department toward the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Ombudsman or the Minister responsible for the Pu= blic Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act? I don’t think so. Why have= we set up, despite the structure of the system that is put in place — not the legislative structure, but the system that has been put in place — why do we countenance this with respect to the Human Rights Commission? Why= do we countenance the perception that the Department of Justice can direct what the Human Rights Commission may or may not investigate?

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, the Human Rights Commission has been clear for many years that this is an i= ssue that needs to be addressed. In the annual report for 2015-16, the chair of = the commission at that time, Russ Knutson, noted that — and I quote: “The current split funding and reporting framework for the human righ= ts system in Yukon is inadequate. It needs to change to improve the independen= ce of the Commission, as recommended by an all-party committee in 2008.”=

It is interesting — you know, sometimes there is kind of a blasé attitude toward the activities — or even the setting up — of se= lect committees of the Legislative Assembly, but it is imperative to the trust t= hat citizens place in these democratic institutions of this Legislative Assembl= y, including select committees representing all parties in this Assembly, that when those committees, through their due diligence of listening to citizens= and hearing recommendations, come together to submit reports reflecting the perspectives — the non-partisan perspectives — Members of the Legislative Assembly, that this House acts with some alacrity. We are 10 ye= ars on and we still haven’t acted on this simple recommendation. <= /p>

Mr.&nb= sp;Knutson said in the 2015-16 report that “Currently, the Commission reports to= the Legislative Assembly, but the Department of Justice” — he said — “controls our funding and administration — which impacts our ability to access resources and to meet our core mandate. The Commission urges the Legislative Assembly to take immediate action to address this ser= ious concern.”

The Hu= man Rights Commission has expressed its optimism that, with the changes that came abou= t in November 2016, a new government would agree to one of its long-standing requests, as I have outlined, going back 20 years at least — the long-standing request of financial independence from the Yukon government. = In an article of January 18, 2017, the Human Rights Commission said to the Yukon News — reiterated the importance of having that independence from the Yukon government. They poin= ted out that — and I’m quoting: “While the commission reports= to the Yukon Legislative Assembly, its funding comes from the Department of Justice.

“= ;That’s a problem, said the commission’s chair, as the commission sometimes investigates complaints directed at the justice department.”

The ch= air at the time talked about examples I have cited here today with respect to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The chair, Mr. Knutson, said: “We have to be and appear to be an independent body”. Because the Justice department also provides legal support to other Yukon government departments that the commission might be investigating, he said — and I’m quoting: “It’s a really uncomfortable situation”.<= /p>

I̵= 7;m quoting here from this article of January 2017 — Knutson said that wh= ile the government hasn’t threatened to cut funding because of human righ= ts investigations, “the potential is there”. Again, Mr. Speak= er, nobody is asserting that this government or any government has threatened t= o do so, but it is the potential and the perception. We have an ability — = and I would say an obligation — to remove that perception. There is no impediment to us to do so.

As I m= entioned already, the calls for the commission to be truly arm’s length date b= ack to 2008 when that select committee reported in November 2008 and recommended that the Legislative Assembly address the funding conflict. Here we are tod= ay, 10 years later, hopefully simply agreeing to address it.

The no= tion of having an independent body similar to the Office of the Ombudsman, the Child and Youth Advocate and Elections Yukon, each headed by stand-alone entities= , is not new. The Government of British Columbia, after a political decision in = 2002 to disband its human rights commission, did public consultations this past = year and a bit, and it has now announced that they will be establishing an independent human rights commission.

I am q= uoting here from the parliamentary secretary in the British Colombia government, R= avi Kahlon, who said, “The most important piece I h= eard from stakeholders is that the human rights commission should be fully independen= t of government.” He said that making sure the commissioner was fully independent was a significant step in the ongoing process of reconciliation with First Nation people in that province.

We hav= e the opportunity to take this step today. It is a simple step. It is simply acknowledging that the Human Rights Commission needs to be not only recogni= zed as being independent of government, but that, by the mechanisms that we set= up through legislation, it is independent both in perception and in reality of= any government interference. We can agree that we continue the relationship of = the Human Rights Commission reporting to this Legislative Assembly, and then we= can strengthen both the perception and the reality of their independence by ensuring that we do whatever is necessary to effect the changes through legislation, the Human Rights Act,<= /i> to ensure the financial control of the Human Rights Commission, now or in the future — if we assume that we adopt this motion today — does not stand the threat of perception that it is under the control of any governme= nt department or Government of Yukon, whichever party is in power.

There = are mechanisms that we have at our disposal. It is my understanding that the act would need to be amended to provide for requirements similar to those found= in section 9 of the Ombudsman Act, section 22 of the Child and Youth Advocate Act , section 28 of the Conflict of Interest (Members and Ministers) Act and section 16 of the Elections Act, which provide that = the estimates for financing and operations of the commission be submitted to the Members’ Services Board for approval prior to their inclusion in an appropriation bill. We would have to make sure that the Human Rights Commis= sion would be removed from the vote for the Department of Justice and establishe= d as either a stand-alone vote or as a program within the Legislative Assembly v= ote. I would suggest that it would be best served if it was a stand-alone in the same fashion as the other House Officers.

My poi= nt is that the Legislative Assembly of the Yukon has discussed this matter for over 20 years. Today the Legislative Assembly is being asked to approve a motion th= at urges the government to strengthen the independence of the Human Rights Commission by making the commission — and I will be most willing to h= ear from others about the actual structure of the motion, because I will say yet again, as I said at the outset, that the intent is to achieve the same inde= pendence as officers of the Legislative Assembly — the same independence and perception of independence as the Ombudsman, the Child and Youth Advocate a= nd the Chief Electoral Officer have. We have at our disposal the legislative t= ools to effect this change to achieve both the reality and the perception of independence of this vitally important body within the Yukon Human Rights Commission.

I look= forward to support from all Members of the Legislative Assembly today in getting th= is done — 31 years after the legislation was passed by this same Assembl= y, 20 years after the select committee on modernizing the Human Rights Act proposed that we do so and eight years after t= he consultation documents on modernizing the human rights legislation pursuant= to that select committee in 2008. We have had lots of discussion about this, so there is no lack of information. I am most interested in hearing the views = of other members and ultimately to having a positive vote by all Members of th= is Legislative Assembly to strengthen the independence of the Yukon Human Righ= ts Commission.

&= nbsp;

Hon. Ms. McPhee: I appreciate the opportunity to speak about this topic. It is certainly something near and dear to my heart. An office of the Legislative Assembly is being suggested by the member opposite. Unfortunately, I think — I say “unfortunately” because I have spoken to the memb= er opposite about how we might like to see our way clear to supporting this motion, but I think we see the problems or potential problems that have been outlined by the Member for Whitehorse Centre differently. I think we probab= ly see the solutions differently. I appreciate the opportunity to speak about = this matter today.

I am p= leased to rise to speak to the motion brought by the Member for Whitehorse Centre. Th= is is a bit of an unusual motion in that it asks for the Yukon Human Rights Co= mmission — and I note that the member opposite has noted already — to be= come an office of the Legislative Assembly. Of course, there are no offices of t= he Legislative Assembly. I take her point, that she meant “officer”= ; of the Legislative Assembly, but we will speak a little bit about that distinc= tion and the importance of the kinds of decisions that would have to be made for= us to get there.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, this would require — in my submission to this House — significa= nt amendments to the Human Rights Act<= /i> as well as changes to the structure of the Human Rights Commission itself. I t= hink that has been described by the member opposite as a bit of a simple step; I don’t agree, unfortunately, that it would be a simple step. Redrafting the Yukon Human Rights Act, whi= ch, as we know, is a pillar and was amended by this government to include improvem= ents for the LGBTQ2S+ populations and other improvements over the last two years — which we are proud of — rewriting and restructuring that piec= e of legislation would not, in my view, be that simple. It could be done. The restructuring of the Human Rights Commission itself would also be required = to meet the goals outlined by the Member for Whitehorse Centre.

It wou= ld also require the appointment of a commissioner, because currently there is no su= ch thing as a Yukon human rights commissioner, an individual person — commissioner, as is being suggested as an Officer of the Legislative Assemb= ly by the member opposite. One would need to structure the act in order for th= at to be the case. Again, it’s not impossible, but it could be done — again, not a simple change, in my view.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, I think it is important to also note that, at this stage, that would require growth within government. We would be going down the road of structuring and making legislative changes and appointing a commissioner of Yukon human rig= hts, which would be an additional one person, and presumably with the commission= ers as appointed. I’m not speculating on what that would be, but clearly = we do not have such a person now, and the suggestion is that we would have suc= h a person.

To pro= perly understand these proposed changes, it is important to be clear about the current structure of the Human Rights Commission. We would, as noted, in appointing a new commissioner or a new officer of the Legislative Assembly = and all of the administration that might go with that — there is an OIC h= ere under the Government Organisation A= ct here in the Yukon government that indicates that the Yukon Department of Justice is responsible for the Yukon Human Rights Act, because all entities of government must be responsibl= e to a particular department under the G= overnment Organisation Act. The Human Rig= hts Act established a Human Rights Commission consisting of a minimum of th= ree and a maximum of five members, and that is the current law. These members a= re appointed by an all-party committee of the Legislative Assembly and can only be remov= ed from the commission by a resolution of the Legislative Assembly. I’m going to be saying this on more than one occasion, Mr. Speaker, but th= at commission of three to five members is accountable to the Legislative Assem= bly by virtue of law. They are required to be accountable to the Legislative Assembly. There is a director of human rights who is responsible to the commission, and the commission itself, as stated in the act, is accountable= to the Legislative Assembly. There are other details around that — the annual report of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, for instance, is submit= ted through the Speaker to the floor of this Legislative Assembly — an important statement, in my view, of the independence of the Yukon Human Rig= hts Commission and an activity which has been taking place since 1987.

Another important part of the Human Rights = Act is, in fact, section 39 — the paramountcy clause — as noted by = the member opposite. That section of the act reads, “This Act… R= 12; meaning the Human Rights Act of= Yukon — “… supersedes any other Act, whether enacted before or after this Act, unless it is expressly declared by the other Act that it sh= all supersede this Act” — the Yukon Human Rights Act — of which there are very few. I’m afraid I don’t have an example, but I’m happy to look for one. I’m= not aware of any.

The Yu= kon Human Rights Act is by legislation= , by law, by the design of this Legislative Assembly a paramount act to all of o= ur other pieces of legislation. What that means, of course, Mr. Speaker, = is that even if government were to give instructions to not cooperate with the Yukon Human Rights Commission, it would be violating the law to do so, and = that is completely and utterly unacceptable.

Of cou= rse, there will be — and I plan to speak more about this — challenges about interpretation of the law, and those are completely and utterly legitimate. They do not affect the independence of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, n= or should they. They would not be seen to do so by any court in this land, and= in fact, the interpretation and challenges with respect to the jurisdiction of= the Yukon Human Rights Commission and whether or not they can investigate somet= hing has never been the case. It is, in fact, the case that there have been legal arguments about what section 20 of the Yukon Human Rights Act says. Those would be the case despite the reporting structure of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, which I do not hesitate to remind everyone is to the Legislative Assembly. They are curren= tly responsible to this body.

The cu= rrent legal structure of the Yukon Human Rights Commission makes it independent of government and directly accountable to the Legislative Assembly. The one exception is with respect to their budget. For over 30 years, since 1987, t= he Department of Justice has been a mechanism for the Yukon Human Rights Commission to submit requests and to receive its budget. It is a mechanism = for that to happen. Each year, the commission submits a budget request through = the Department of Justice to Management Board which approves funding for the commission’s operations. This includes core funding — and despi= te the article referenced earlier, I think from 2017, from a newspaper report = where Mr. Knutson speaks — and I’m certainly not suggesting for a second that it has anything to do with Mr. Knutson’s misunderstanding of this — but he indicates in that article — a= nd I quote: “As it stands, every time the commission needs money, it goes = to the department of justice to ask for one-time grants, ‘and it just makes = it very, very difficult to create any kind of consistency in the office,’ says Knutson.”

First = of all, let me just clarify that is not, in fact, the case. There is core funding f= or the Yukon Human Rights Commission, and then there are additional requests t= hat are dealt with on behalf of the Yukon Human Rights Commission in the event = that they should have such a thing. But the concept that the Department of Justi= ce, every time they need money, is involved with the Yukon Human Rights Commiss= ion and grants only one-time grants is simply not, in fact, the case. I donR= 17;t think for a second that Mr. Knutson misunderstands that. I appreciate that’s the way it was reported. I won’t speculate any more other than to say that is a public statement and that’s not, in fact, corre= ct.

Each y= ear, the Human Rights Commission of the Yukon submits a budget request through the Department of Justice to Management Board, which approves funding for the commission’s operations. This includes core funding as well as occasi= onal supplementary funding, sometimes for legal services or professional contrac= ts. A request came forward last year and there were additional funds provided to the Yukon Human Rights Commission for what they thought were experts and le= gal services needed for particular hearings. Sometimes it’s something like that or to address fluctuations in a number of hearings, or sometimes it co= uld be for special projects, depending on the management of the Yukon Human Rig= hts Commission, which is solely up to the commission itself, to its director, in consultation and cooperation with the Yukon human rights commissioners.

The De= partment of Justice continually works with the Yukon Human Rights Commission to stab= ilize its operational costs and to resolve funding issues as it brings them forwa= rd to the department. For the past five years, the Department of Justice has g= iven the commission an increase to its core funding every year. That has resulte= d in an increase in funding from $567,000 in 2013-14 to a core funding amount of $682,000 in 2017‑18. In addition, for the 2018‑19 budget, the Y= ukon Human Rights Commission originally asked for a 73‑percent increase in funding over the 2017‑18 core funding amount.

After = reviewing the commission’s budget, the Department of Justice recommended an increase of 17.7 percent, or the equivalent of $121,000, over the 2017̴= 9;18 budget. This broke down to an increase of two percent to the core funding a= nd 15.7 percent to a one-time increase to cover legal services and professional contracts, as indicated by the Yukon Human Rights Commission in their reque= st.

As you= can see, Mr. Speaker, the funding that government has provided to the Yukon Human Rights Commissi= on has steadily increased over the years through the mechanism of the Departme= nt of Justice line item. The Department of Justice will continue to work toget= her with the commission to address funding pressures that are created by an increased number of hearings, if those are in any particular year. <= /p>

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, you will know something about the way these organizations — important organizations that they are — are funded, in particular through the Department of Justice, as that is what we’re speaking about today, and that there are several unpredictable programs that are administered through= the Department of Justice. I will get to those in a second.

The pr= ovision of funding by the Department of Justice in no way impacts the independence of = the Yukon Human Rights Commission. In fact, the situation is not all that diffe= rent from what happens in the case of legal aid, for instance, and other organizations.

For in= stance, let me just say that the government provides funding to the Yukon Legal Services Society, which is also known as Legal Aid, here in the territory so that it can provide professional legal services to Yukoners to ensure that = they have access to justice. Of course, Mr. Speaker — something you w= ill know a lot about — the Department of Justice lawyers appear in court = as opposing counsel with Legal Aid lawyers and their clients, if not on a daily basis, on a weekly basis — and no one challenges the independence of those individuals to argue their proper legal case and properly represent t= heir clients. This year, as an aside, we have also increased the funding for leg= al aid, and despite that funding mechanism, the Yukon Human Rights Commission operates like Legal Aid, completely independent of government.

Their = work — that of the Yukon Human Rights Commission as well as Legal Aid R= 12; is completely unfettered by the Department of Justice officials, and I know= of no suggestion to the contrary. I have listened very carefully to the commen= ts made by the member who has brought this motion before the House, and I am pleased to be able to debate it today, but it is not the case that — = not only to my personal knowledge, but to the knowledge of anyone in the histor= y of the department — that interference with the operations of the Yukon H= uman Rights Commission or other organizations — Legal Aid, the indigenous court workers program, Yukon Public Legal Education — all programs th= at are funded through the mechanism of the Department of Justice but that oper= ate quite independently from any of the work of the Department of Justice, with= the exception of funding requests and answers — it is simply not the case that the independence of any of those organizations is challenged. <= /p>

Since = I assumed the role of the Minister of Justice two years ago, there has been no concern about the independence of the Yukon Human Rights Commission. I have certain= ly met with the director and other members of the commission over the last cou= ple of years, but early on we met and this matter did come up. We spoke briefly about it, but I have not had a request — official or otherwise. As I said, I am happy to debate this on the floor of the House today, but certai= nly we have not had extensive discussions about this as an option.

What I= would like to stop to say here now is that if this is about adequate funding for = the Yukon Human Rights Commission, then frankly, Mr. Speaker, that is what= we should be talking about. The structure of the Yukon Human Rights Commission already requires the commission to report to the Legislative Assembly. Their annual report is to come through you, Mr. Speaker. It does not require= in any way, shape or form any other activity by the Human Rights Commission in conjunction with the Department of Justice, with the exception of a mechani= sm for their funding.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, the Department of Justice has been working very carefully over the last cou= ple of years to develop a constructive relationship with the Yukon Human Rights Commission. As I have said, we have met on several occasions. I have spoken with the director about more than that. We have spoken about specific situations involving general reform. We have consulted with the director, f= or instance, on the Whitehorse Correctional Centre inspection and will do so a= gain as we move forward to determine how to best implement those recommendations= — they are experts in the field. Earlier this year we reached a significant settlement with the Yukon Human Rights Commission that reflects our respect= for the work that the commission does and our good faith when it comes to addressing human rights concerns in the territory.

As a g= overnment, we are pleased that we were able to come to a settlement in those cases that resolved four human rights complaints of a systemic nature relating to sepa= rate confinement and mental health services at the Whitehorse Correctional Centr= e. This has previously been made public, but it is an important step in the relationship and — I say to you, Mr. Speaker — evidence of= the fact that the Yukon Human Rights Commission operates quite independently of= the Yukon government, as it should — as it is required to do so by law. <= /span>

We are= fully committed to working with the Yukon Human Rights Commission to implement the settlement terms that I referred to, which will bring about many positive changes and improve how we provide mental health services and mental health care services and manage individuals in custody at the Correctional Centre. This is just one part of our ongoing efforts and intent to improve service delivery at the Correctional Centre, especially as it concerns mental well-being and services to inmates. Mr. Loukideli= s’s work — as we heard here in the House last week — is, of course, another part of that, but the settlement also reflects our intent to work together with the Yukon Human Rights Commission to address human rights con= cerns in the territory.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, in most Canadian jurisdictions, the provincial human rights commission acts= as a gateway to the human rights tribunal, which actually makes decisions on complaints, not unlike our own. We heard a bit earlier today about British Columbia. I appreciate that they are intending to change their system. For many, many years, they had no human rights commission at all, and they presently don’t have one. Their current situation is that the BC Human Rights Tribunal plays a dual role as a commission and as a tribunal in Brit= ish Columbia. The minister responsible for the Human Rights Code is set by order-in-council, and currently in British Columb= ia it is the Attorney General.

The mi= nister responsible for approving the tribunal’s budget — who acts as t= he Attorney General, as well — is Mr. David Eb= y. It is different from our process, of course.

In Ont= ario, the minister responsible for the Human = Rights Code is the Minister of Justice. The same minister is responsible for t= he code and is set by an order-in-council. The code in Ontario specifically ma= kes the commission responsible to the minister for the administration of this a= ct, noting that ours is responsible to this Legislative Assembly but leaves the power set, with respect to salaries — again in Ontario — and expenses of the commissioners, to the Cabinet. Ontario’s commission budget is set by the government and the commission is forced to work within that budget.

The fe= deral Human Rights Commission is established by the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Minister of Justice is charged w= ith the responsibility of that act for Canada, and Cabinet is responsible for setting the salary of full-time commissioners. The Minister of Justice for Canada controls the budget of the commission and also has significant administrative control over the commission — I note, not like here in= the Yukon. There is no administrative function for the Department of Justice wi= th respect to the Yukon Human Rights Commission.

In the= vast majority of Canadian jurisdictions, the structure is as we have here with respect to the Yukon Human Rights Commission, again noting that the mechani= sm is the Department of Justice with respect to having that matter — the= ir budget — approved, but that does not impede the independence of the Y= ukon Human Rights Commission.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, I appreciate that the mover of this motion, the Member for Whitehorse Centr= e, and I will disagree about this. I appreciate her principled approach with respect to having brought forward this particular motion. I also appreciate= the passion with which she has brought this to the floor of the Legislative Assembly, but I note that, in my submission to this House, there are a numb= er of points I would just like to note that have come from the submission by t= he member opposite.

I woul= d like to reiterate that if we are talking about the funding for the Yukon Human Righ= ts Commission, then we should be talking about the funding. These are two very separate issues. I appreciate how one might see a question of independence,= but I think it’s critical that we understand that no matter the reporting mechanism — and our Human Rights Commission does report to the floor = of this House — there will be challenges in which government lawyers are involved with other parties before the Yukon Human Rights Commission and the Yukon human rights board of adjudication. That is simply a fact. In a jurisdiction the size we have, it is simply a fact — on the basis that the Yukon government is a very large employer — that they are the res= pondent in a number of investigations because of either perceived concerns or complaints brought on behalf of individuals to the Yukon Human Rights Commission, and that is as it should be.

A numb= er of comments were made, and some were noted to be from former members of this Legislative Assembly and more in general from a select committee that dealt with these issues over a number of years — but I think I need to take issue with some of them. I appreciate that I might be repeating myself, but this is the absolute basis for this motion — which I will not be able= to support — and it is that the independence of the commission is challenged.

A comm= ent was made about their funding and that the Yukon Human Rights Commission is some= how treated as part of the department. That is simply not the case. I have noted that Justice funds many programs that operate independently from the Yukon Department of Justice, and I have noted just as examples Legal Aid, indigen= ous court workers, public legal education, et cetera. That is not to be laughed= at, Mr. Speaker, or dismissed in a quick way. It is a function of the Department of Justice that we fund many independent programs because of the function of justice — because individuals will come into conflict with the law or will come into conflict with the government, and Department of Justice lawyers will need to be involved in that, as well, but that actual independence is never a concern because it is the function of the department and a function of legal representation that must be taken into account.

I woul= d like to note and speak just for a second about the public perception of this situat= ion. It is certainly not available to me — and I am not saying it isn̵= 7;t the case — that there is a public perception that the Yukon Human Rig= hts Commission is somehow interfered with on a regular or daily basis. It is not even my perception that, in fact, the current commissioners or director of = the Yukon Human Rights Commission believe that to be the case.

I know= the member opposite will say that we’re not talking about the current government — nor should we. We should talk about decisions going forw= ard for all future governments that must comply in future. I guess it is import= ant, in my view, to remind us that the Yukon Human Rights Commission — exc= ept for the mechanism of funding — is already independent from government= . We have structured the law the best way we can to have it be independent from government. It reports to the Legislative Assembly. Its members come through the Legislative Assembly. It is not possible to remove someone from that job unless it comes through the Legislative Assembly. In fact, its reporting co= mes to the Speaker through the Legislative Assembly.

Mr.&nb= sp;Speaker, I just need to speak a little bit about the concept of arguing jurisdiction. May I say it this way: Regardless of whether or not the Yukon Human Rights Commission reports to this Legislative Assembly and gets its funding throug= h a process administered by the Department of Justice — a mechanism admin= istered by the Department of Justice — or gets its funding through a mechanism administered by the Members’ Services Board, there will be now, in the past and probably in the future, challenges on the legalities of the Yukon = Human Rights Act itself. Where the funding comes from will not affect the fact that there will be sometimes be legal disputes about a particular piece of the section of the legislation or about an interpretation of the legislation and, unfortunately or fortunatel= y, the reference made by the member opposite is about a perception that the Yu= kon Human Rights Commission was being challenged about whether or not it could investigate a matter.

Sectio= n 20 of the Yukon Human Rights Act sets= out the jurisdiction of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, and it says that the Human Rights Commission can do these things — it should do these thin= gs in this case. It is the parameters upon which it can operate, and one of th= em happens to be that if there is another process, then they shouldn’t do something.

There = has been in the past and probably will be in the future disputes about what that mea= ns. The Yukon Human Rights Commission is fully within its rights to take a particular position, but so are individuals who are challenging that jurisdiction, regardless of who they are. Should they happen to be a govern= ment lawyer defending a government department, that’s the way the law operates. That’s what’s going to happen. It is in no way challenging the independence of the Yukon Human Rights Commission to challe= nge a section or their interpretation of a section of their act. A conflict of legal interpretation will not disappear if the Yukon Human Rights Commission were to have a different funding mechanism. It just wouldn’t.<= /p>

I have= to disagree — as I think I’ve noted earlier — about the publ= ic perception. The Yukon Human Rights Commission, in the last number of years,= has done much work in public education to support Yukoners who have challenges under the act, who have complaints — come to them for their services,= for their assistance with a complaint — to have justice in their maltreatment. The Yukon Human Rights Commission has done an excellent job, = not only on individual cases and sorting those out for those individuals who co= me to them, but on a public education front and the perception or the belief t= hat they somehow have an inability to do their work properly because of the mechanism of the Department of Justice being involved in their funding. Thi= s is certainly not something that I am aware of in a public arena and not even truly, as I have said, in a private arena.

I thin= k that some of the comments made earlier could be construed — not saying they were intended that way — to leave the belief that the Department of Justice interferes with what the Yukon Human Rights Commission can and cann= ot investigate, and that simply is not true, Mr. Speaker. If there is evidence to the contrary, please bring it forward. It is clearly not what is intended by the law; it’s not what is permitted by the law, and it is not, in fact, what’s happening. The Yukon Human Rights Commission operates absolutely independently from the Department of Justice and from government. It is responsible to this Legislative Assembly with the excepti= on of a mechanism for them to get money to operate.

The le= gal question about jurisdiction, as I have noted, is a legal interpretation of section 20 that I’ve also outlined is a valid question. It will conti= nue to be a valid question. It could be any other section. It happens to be sec= tion 20 of that act that has been the one that’s been questioned about jurisdiction, but it could be another section. It could be a section about = how commissioners are appointed or how a commissioner might be removed. All of = our laws are open to valid legal challenge and must be defended as such.

It is = the kind of questions that lawyers must deal with and, in fact, that the Yukon Human Rights Commission must deal with all the time. I dare say that for virtually every case, they do an analysis of whether or not they have jurisdiction to investigate. It determines whether or not they do, and they proceed on that basis. Section 20 is the answer to the question: Where do you get your authority? That is the authority of the Human Rights Commission there.

I need= to address the idea that controlling the funding — I take issue with the word “controlling” — so providing the funding with respec= t to how the Human Rights Commission gets core funding, additional funding for certain situations and for the administration of the Yukon Human Rights Com= mission is, again, inaccurate. If we are going to talk about funding, then we shoul= d be talking about funding. Funding and administration are quite separate, not o= nly in the act, but in practice.

The su= bmission or statement by the member opposite, the mover of the motion, that the Yukon Human Rights Commission should be at arm’s length from the government= is a statement that I actually agree with. Where we will differ is that I beli= eve that the law says that the structure that we currently have does, in fact, = have them at arm’s length. It has been designed for them to be at arm̵= 7;s length of the government, and there needs to be a mechanism for which they would receive funding.

If it weren’t through the Department of Justice and if it were through Members’ Services Board, which I understand to be the suggestion, it = is still connected to government. The esoteric argument could be that all of o= ur officers of the Legislative Assembly are, in fact, still connected to government because their funding comes through a mechanism of government. I= n my submission, the Yukon Human Rights Commission is at arm’s length from= the government. It is designed to report here to this Legislative Assembly, its members come from this Legislative Assembly, and removing its members from = Commission must be done here. It is required to report here. The mechanism for its fun= ding does not question the independence of the Yukon Human Rights Commission.

I appr= eciate the opportunity to speak to the House today about this.

&= nbsp;

Mr. Cathers: Speaking to the motion, I would note that while I do respect the view of the Leader = of the NDP, I do not share the view that there is a problem with the current structure or that the independence of the commission is compromised or impe= ded by the current structure that pertains specifically to matters such as budgetary review or any other matter. I do respect that some people share t= hat view brought forward by the Leader of the NDP, but with all due respect to those people, I do not happen to agree with that view. I believe that the current structure is probably more appropriate than one in which the submis= sion would present its budgets to Members’ Services Board, as the Departme= nt of Justice has far more resources for the review of budgetary submissions a= nd requests than the Legislative Assembly office does.

I woul= d agree with the minister in some of the statements, though not all, that she broug= ht forward, including the fact that it would not be a good fit to submit its budgets via Members’ Services Board. Again, I share some but not all = of the views that the Minister of Justice brought forward this afternoon.

I do a= gree that there is a significant difference between an office and an officer and that giving life to the proposal of the Leader of the NDP would likely, as the minister stated, result in the growth of government, which we would not support.

The Mi= nister of Justice also correctly noted that funding for the Human Rights Commission h= as grown over the past number of years, and I do not believe that there has be= en an issue in that regard because of the structure. I do have confidence in h= ow staff of the Department of Justice handle budgetary requests from the Human Rights Commission, and unless we see evidence of a change in how these matt= ers are handled under the Liberal government of this minister, I do not believe that there is a problem that needs to be solved through this.

With t= hat, Mr. Speaker, I will not be supporting this motion brought forward by the Leader of the N= DP for the reasons I have articulated.

&= nbsp;

Speaker: Is = there further debate on Motion No. 330?

If the= member now speaks, she will close debate.

Does a= ny other member wish to be heard?

&= nbsp;

Ms. Hanson: To say that the NDP caucus is disappointed in the response is perhaps an understatement, Mr. Speaker. I find it fascinating that, after 31 year= s, we’re having a conversation in this Legislative Assembly about a fund= amental piece of legislation that at its time was the gold bar — the gold mea= sure — in Canada for human rights legislation. I would point out to the fo= rmer Minister of Justice and the current Minister of Justice, both of whom have expressed the same views from two different political perspectives, that wh= en this legislation was passed, it preceded the existing officers of the Legislative Assembly — the legislation that put in place the Office of the Ombudsman, the office of the Child and Youth Advocate and the office of= the Information and Privacy Commissioner — by quite a number of years.

We see= an evolution in political thinking and political accountability and the import= ance of impartiality and the importance of the perception of independence of political interference or perceived political interference as our democraci= es evolve.

Betwee= n the time in 1987 when that legislation was passed until the subsequent pieces of legislation that I referenced were passed, I would suggest that the Members= of the Legislative Assembly gave considered thought to the implications of embedding aspects of a relationship between a fundamentally important organ= ization, an entity, set up to protect that — and not only protect, but be seen= to be impartially protecting the human rights of all Yukoners — from any perception of political or administrative interference.

It is disappointing. Nothing that I heard today could probably be much different = than in past debates. Ironically, there is a complete dismissal of the fact that this Legislative Assembly — it is as though we have got this tabula r= asa and that we are starting all over again every time. It feels like Groundhog Day. A select committee of this Legislative Assembly 10 years ago — j= ust to use the member opposite’s favourite phrase — it just wasn’t a willy-nilly kind of exercise; this was a considered exercise, consulting with Yukoners, to look at the human rights legislation 20 years after it was put into effect. They came to a consensus view — all thr= ee parties, I would point out. It wasn’t one dissenting view — and= we have had that in the past, where there have been sort of side comments. All parties agreed, and they agreed on this very aspect that is the subject of = this motion today. I fundamentally disagree that this is all about money.

The mi= nister may say that, in the courts of this land, there is no perception that there is = no independence, but I will say — and stand firmly behind the notion = 212; that, in the court of public opinion, it will rule otherwise.

If this government wants to argue about nickel-and-diming, about how much money and= the minutia of the budgets, that’s fine, but that’s not what this debate was about. This debate was about the fundamental independence and maintaining the perception of the independence of the Yukon Human Rights Commission. We will continue to hold firm to our belief. We’ll just l= eave it there.

Speaker: Are= you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members: Division.

Division

Speaker:= 195;Division has been called.=

 

Bells<= /o:p>

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Speaker: Mr.=  Clerk, please poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Silver: Disagree.

Hon. Ms. McPhee: Disagree.

Hon. Mr. Pillai: Disagree.

Hon. Ms. Dendys: Disagree.

Hon. Ms. Frost: Disagree.

Mr. Gallina: Disagree.

Mr. Adel: Disagree.

Hon. Mr. Mostyn: Disagree.

Hon. Mr. Streicker: <= span lang=3DEN-CA>Disagree.

Mr. Hassard: Disagree.

Ms. Van Bibber: Disagree.

Mr. Cathers: Disagree.

Ms. McLeod: Disagree.

Mr. Istchenko: Disagree.

Ms. Hanson: Agree.

Ms. White: Agree.

Clerk: Mr.&n= bsp;Speaker, the results are two yea, 14 nay.

Speaker: The= nays have it. I declare the motion defeated.

Motion No. 330 negatived

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Hon. Ms. McPhee: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the Ho= use resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker: It = has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

&= nbsp;

Speaker leaves the Chair

Committee of the Whole

Deputy Chair (Mr. Adel): Order. Committee of the Whole will= now come to order.

The ma= tter before the Committee is Vote 52, Department of Environment, in Bill No.&nbs= p;207, entitled Second Appropriation Act, = 2018‑19.

Do mem= bers wish to take a brief recess?

All Hon. Members: Agreed.

Deputy Chair:̳= 5;We will recess for 15 minutes.

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Recess

 

Deputy Chair:̳= 5;Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

Bill No. 207: Second Appropriation = Act, 2018‑19 — continued

Deputy Chair:̳= 5;The matter before the Committee is Vote 52, Department of Environment, in Bill No. 207, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2018‑19.

Is the= re any general debate?

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Department of Environment =

Hon. Ms. Frost: I am presenting today on the Department of Environment’s supplementary budget, which will see a resulting increase of $1,054,000, which is just ov= er two percent of our overall budget of $45,919,000, which was previously vote= d. The increase falls under the department’s operation and maintenance budget, and it is 100‑percent recoverable from Canada. It supports important projects in climate change, habitat research and air quality awareness.

The De= partment of Environment is also the appointed body for the implementation of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement in Yuko= n. This work is to manage the Qikiqtaruk Territori= al Park, which is in north Yukon, in collaboration with fish and wildlife management for the North Slope. Due to later transfers of core funding from Canada of $408,000, the increase of our O&M budget will provide continu= ed support for bringing the Inuvialuit agreement in line and, of course, the supports required there.

The in= crease in the details, as I mentioned previously — the department’s incre= ase in supporting important projects also includes climate change, habitat rese= arch and air quality awareness. I would like to tell you a little bit more about these projects. In the north, we know that climate change is clearly not a theory — it is what we see every day — the cracks in the highwa= ys, the shifting foundation on a lot of our buildings. In particular, in Vuntut Gwitchin, Ross River and Kluane, we are seeing some significant changes the= re with permafrost — so real impacts on our communities.

We hav= e a four-year agreement in place with Canada. We will provide $1.7 million= of recoverable funding in this supplementary budget. This agreement is through= the federal climate change preparedness in the north program and includes a tot= al increase of $5,042,000 in O&M monies. This funding is supporting a numb= er of important climate change projects throughout Yukon communities, and I wo= uld like to specifically mention two projects that are directly impacted by the budget adjustment.

Both p= rojects look at integral resources for habitat for all Yukon species — our forests. Of course, the tracking of changes in the Yukon forest project is = in partnership with the Dawson region and is looking at forest growth and spec= ies to monitor how they are changing. Together with First Nations, this project aims to incorporate traditional knowledge and build local capacity in the a= rea of data gathering.

The se= cond forest project looks at one of climate change’s biggest threats to our community: forest fires. We can all appreciate initiatives that look to bet= ter inform our understanding and responses to forest fires. This specific proje= ct goes one step further to not only inform how we react but to support our efforts to predict forest fires so that we can be better prepared and take action proactively.

The pr= edicting forest fire risks project is using innovative modelling to help us better prepare earlier for the impacts forest fires have on our lands, wildlife and communities. The department is also working on a project in the Nisutlin de= lta wildlife area, which is situated near Teslin and is within the Teslin Tling= it traditional territory. The delta is an important waterfowl staging area and= is a designated national wildlife area.

Previo= us studies occurred in 1983 and 1998, providing baseline datasets to help monitor chan= ges over time. This study, which will be supplemented by a $12,000 increase in = our O&M budget, will track changes in vegetation, species abundance, composition and diversity in the delta and relate findings to a changing climate — recognizing that we don’t have a lot of data collecte= d in the Yukon with respect to water and wetlands strategies and we were proceed= ing with a broader Yukon strategy, so this is really relevant to the work that = we are doing.

In add= ition, potential competition for vegetation among moose and waterfowl in the delta will also be investigated.

Lastly= , I would like to mention the air quality project, which represents a $99,000 increas= e to our O&M budget. Yukoners enjoy some of the best air quality in Canada, = but a recent study that we conducted with Health Canada shows that clearly there are areas for improvement. This funding will support our work with communit= ies to encourage more efficient wood-burning practices, especially in areas that saw a decrease in air quality. The funding will also support continued air quality monitoring in Whitehorse, as well as a new monitoring station in Da= wson City and a transportable monitor that can be dispatched for areas experienc= ing forest fire smoke. This data will help guide our work to improve air quality for years to come.

In clo= sing, I wanted to capture very quickly what the supplementary budget covered. I will take my seat and I will wait for responses.

Mr. Istchenko: I want to welcome the staff here today, and I want to congratulate him on Air North’s seven-to-one win over the Whitehorse Old= timers. I believe he scored a goal; that was pretty good.

In Sep= tember 2018, the tender for the permit hunt authorization review was cancelled, ci= ting no qualified bids. I have a few questions with respect to the cancelled ten= der.

Can th= e minister confirm the status of the independent audit on the permit hunt system? Has another tender been issued? Can the minister explain whether the department= has looked into the reasons why the tender did not receive qualified bids?

Can th= e minister explain what direction she is taking instead of the cancelled tender? Can s= he confirm whether a contractor has been hired for this review outside of the tender process? If not, when does she anticipate a contractor to be placed = and this review to begin?

Hon. Ms. Frost: With respect to the question, we are in the process of making the final proceedi= ngs with respect to the bid process. The member opposite is correct that we went out on a public call but did not get any expressions of interest, so we went back out again. Now we are in an invitational process. That closed and we a= re now able to proceed with an announcement. That will happen in the coming da= ys.

Mr. Istchenko: Can the minister explain the reasons why the original tender did not receive qualified bids? Did she look into this?

Hon. Ms. Frost: My understanding is that we went out through a public process, and the bid that was received was deemed by the regulatory process as not being in complianc= e in that there was specific information and details that were added to the parameters of the bid. Therefore, through the bid process, it did not meet = the stated qualifications for proceeding.

Mr. Istchenko: I thank the minister. Can the minister confirm that the audit will be complete and changes to the system implemented by the 2019 hunting season?

Hon. Ms. Frost: Thank you for the question. That is the plan: to have the results completed and, = of course, in effect for the next hunting season. That is our target.

Mr. Istchenko: This summer, the minister issued a caribou ban less than 24 hours before the sta= rt of the hunting season. With no prior notice, some hunters were left unaware= of the change and groups were left confused and concerned by the lack of consultation efforts. Can the minister commit to ensuring that a hunting ba= n of this nature will not happen again at the last minute and with no consultati= on?

Hon. Ms. Frost: Before I get into the question, I wanted to provide a little clarity with respect = to the permit hunt lottery system. I appreciate that there were some specific issues with respect to the actual draw of the permits and that process was supported by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics. We obviously took the necessary steps to address the data errors that were received, always with the object= ive to ensure a fair and accurate process through a lottery draw process. There= was never any intent to mislead or misdirect a process.

Lookin= g at modernizing from a handwritten process to that of an electronic system, the= re were errors detected relating to the weighting of the application, and of course, that had been rectified. The objective was to work with the departm= ent and work with the Bureau of the Statistics to ensure that all of the records that we have on file and that have been transferred were done in such a way that we will never receive any specific challenges within the next draw per= iod for the next hunting permit process.

The pe= rmits that were issued for the second time — clearly there was a miscalculation = on the first draw and then again in the second process, so at that point, human errors happened as a result of the transition of hard data into electronic = data systems. We recognized that and, at that time, begged for patience from Yukoners as we proceeded to move forward with the application process and m= ake some amendments, as necessary.

With r= espect to the Finlayson permit hunt and the decisions around the permit hunt and consultation and the discussions that had transpired over the course of time with the department, as the member opposite well knows, there were a number= of concerns raised over the years with the Finlayson caribou herd and the decl= ine of the herd from somewhere around 5,600 animals down to less than 3,000, so approximately 2,700 animals. In consultation with the Ross River Dena Counc= il and in consultation with the department, the decision was to proceed with a closure on that until we can come up with a broader long-term management pl= an. We did that in discussions and notification with the Fish and Wildlife Management Board and also, despite what perhaps has been said, we did meet = and informed the Fish and Game Association as well and will continue to do that= as we evolve into the next hunting season and look at the necessary permit hunt authorizations specific to the Finlayson herd, but also as we do the draw process.

Mr. Istchenko: Is it the position of this government that limiting harvest should occur or resident hunters should voluntarily comply with requests from other governm= ents in the absence of data without the due process and/or population assessment= ?

Hon. Ms. Frost: I apologize; I didn’t get the question. Can you just rep= eat that please?

Mr. Istchenko: Is it the position of this government that limiting harvests should occur or t= hat resident hunters should voluntarily comply with requests from other governm= ents in the absence of data or without the due process and/or population assessments?

Hon. Ms. Frost: As we know, we have rules, and the rules that apply under the hunting regulations define how and what we do in Yukon. Perhaps a little history lesson with respect to how we deal with self-governing and non-self-governing nations — we know that we have an obligation to consult and a duty to engage with those First Nations that have rules in pl= ace that govern their traditional areas. With respect to how we do that and who= we engage with, clearly we want to listen, collaborate, and, of course, cooper= ate around co-management efforts when issues of concern are brought to our attention. We do that through collaboration with the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and the RRCs.

In the= case where we have non-settled First Nations, they don’t really have a pla= ce to voice their concerns other than through the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board; therefore, the process for collaboration and relationship building with the non-settled First Nations is sometimes a big challenge. T= he decision to engage needs to be done in such a way that every community is g= iven an opportunity to participate and bring their concerns forward.

As we = know, under chapter 16, the premise for the design and building of these structur= es to govern rules around hunting, fishing and trapping is consistent with historical and traditional practices in laws of the nation in which territo= ry we are on. Therefore, the input from the RRCs through traditional knowledge= and practices must be accompanied with co-management efforts when we look at scientific assessments.

With r= espect to questions around game management zones with respect to closures and regulat= ed changes, those are things that we most certainly take into consideration un= der advisement as we approach the health and well-being of our wildlife in each= one of the traditional areas. Of course, encouraging compliance when we go into= a traditional area that really hasn’t already defined special management areas, protected areas or chapter 13 management measures that generally app= ly to the self-governing nations — and those areas really define special areas of significance to the nation in whose the land we enter.

There = is an opportunity for us to embrace and look for cooperative measures when we spe= ak to the White River, Ross River and Liard First Nations as the nations that really don’t have a mechanism in which to identify these special area= s. The objective is really to ensure that we take scientific, traditional and local knowledge and work them together to inform better decision-making whe= n it comes to the well-being of our wildlife.

Mr. Istchenko: With respect to the Alsek Moose Management Program — I had asked the minis= ter in the spring if there were plans to extend it past its end date of March 2= 018. It was stated that an evaluator was hired to look at the program and that t= he evaluation would be completed by the end of May.

Would = the minister please outline the findings of the evaluation and tell the House whether the program has been or will be extended, and will she provide a co= py of those findings to me?

Hon. Ms. Frost: At the moment, I am not able to respond directly to the questi= on of what the evaluation said, but I will provide a response back to the member opposite.

Mr. Istchenko: What steps has the minister taken — and I am asking the minister and not t= he department — to encourage registered trapping concession holders to t= rap wolves as a viable option to kick-start the recovery of our herd population= s?

Hon. Ms. Frost: I am happy to speak to that. It is something that we always encourage, and we work in partnership with the local RRCs. We know that we encourage trapping and try to encourage the trapping of wolves when we have pressure areas.

I woul= d not say specifically that I am a trapper myself, but I have been on a trapline, and= I will continue to do that as I go home to my own community. It is important = to look at management and co-management and to do that in collaboration with o= ur RRCs and our First Nations. The advisement that we get under each one of our specific areas of responsibility — we try to do it in a manner that r= eflects the pressure areas that we are seeing in the game management zones. So reflecting some of that and encouraging more harvesting of wolves in specif= ic areas are some of the things that we are doing.

Mr.&nb= sp;Deputy Chair, I move that you report progress.

Deputy Chair: It has been moved by Ms. Frost that the Chair report progress.

Motion agreed to

&= nbsp;

Deputy Chair: The matter before the committee is the amendment to clause 74 in Bill No. = 24, entitled Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Do mem= bers wish to take a brief recess?

All Hon. Members: Agreed.

Deputy Chair: We will recess for five minutes.

&= nbsp;

Recess

 

Deputy Chair:̳= 5;Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

Bill No. 24: Access to Information = and Protection of Privacy Act — continued

Deputy Chair: The matter before the Committee is the amendment to clause 74, in Bill No. = ;24, entitled Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

On Clause 74 — continued

On proposed amendment — continued

Hon. Mr. Mostyn: Mr. Deputy Chair, I am happy to continue talking a= bout the amendment proposed by the members opposite this afternoon. First, a rec= ap — we have been debating this bill for several days. We have directly heard the thoughts of the Information and Privacy Commissioner on this piec= e of legislation because we invited the official into the House — another first for the territory. All three parties asked the commissioner questions. The opposition has asked us questions, and we are now considering the legislation line by line.

Mr.&nb= sp;Deputy Chair, the Member for Lake Laberge has had a thought — a thought that= the Member for Lake Laberge believes is a good one. The other day the Member for Lake Laberge acted on his thought, and without any consultation or warning — indeed, without any contact at all — he brought forward what amounts to, for the Member for Lake Laberge, a painstakingly crafted amendm= ent on this 144-page piece of legislation — to amend clause 74(1)(a) by: = (1) deleting all words after the word “prepared”; and (2) replacing them with the words “for Cabinet; or”.

The Me= mber for Lake Laberge thought this was a good one because he said so, Mr. Deputy Chair. According to Hansard: “I think that this amendment strengthens= the legislation”, the Member for Lake Laberge said simply. Now, that is t= he member’s right, of course — to have a thought and to propose an amendment on the fly — but I would suggest that this fast-and-loose approach to legislating probably isn’t the best way to “fixR= 21; a piece of legislation such as this. There are better ways, Mr. Deputy Chair — ways to work together collaboratively, although this is admittedly a new idea for the members opposite. Bushwhack amendments made unilaterally at the 11th hour are probably not a great way to legislate. That approach certainly doesn’t respect the titanic effort that the hard-working civil servants in the Department of Highways and Publ= ic Works demonstrated in crafting this elegant piece of legislation.

They s= pent months researching other legislation around the world, assessing best pract= ices for our territory. They held 60 days of public consultations and collected = 124 responses from the public, which they carefully considered, treating with r= espect the advice that was given and then worked those thoughts into the legislati= on where and when appropriate. They sought legal expertise considering the national legal framework and, most important for clause 74, what case law h= ad been established. They’ve spoken to the media. They’ve spoken to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and they have worked with other departments. They worked with legal experts, policy experts, information and privacy experts and writers.

They w= orked for months. They consulted with me, a former journalist and user of the existing ATIPP act, and the Minister of Justice, former Information and Privacy Commissioner herself and a lawyer. They also heard the thoughts of a former drafter of the old ATIPP legislation. They came before Cabinet and then went back and made more changes. They listened some more and made more changes. = In short, they worked very, very hard for many, many months, and then they sta= rted drafting a brand new Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act that is, as I have mentioned,= 144 pages long. As I have also said, I believe it to be a well-crafted, thought= ful document.

Of cou= rse, that’s not to say it can’t be improved. That’s why we’re here today. But surely if you respect the work of the civil ser= vice and if you understand the effort, the long nights and the thought that go i= nto a piece of legislation like this — and after 15 years in government y= ou would think a person might understand that — you would do more than simply, at the 11th hour in debate on such an important bill, put forward a 15-word amendment on the fly, fast and loose, that profoundly cha= nges a key piece in the legislation. You might float such a plan beforehand. I certainly would out of respect. Otherwise, and I’m sure this wasnR= 17;t the Member for Lake Laberge’s intent, but= such a thoughtless last minute off-the-cuff amendment might look like a stunt — a crass stunt. As I said, I’m sure that wasn’t the inte= nt. The member opposite simply had a thought. He thought his 15-word amendment drafted on the fly — fast and loose, with no consultation and apparen= tly no legal vetting — without looking at case law, without approaching t= he Information and Privacy Commissioner, without approaching the media or even= the experts within the Department of Highways and Public Works — would improve a 144-page bill. Well, as we’ve learned, that’s how the last ATIPP amendments were done — with none of that forethought.

We wouldn’t want to curb future thoughts or dim enthusiasm for the job, = so we’ll commend the Member for Lake Laberge’= s effort, but unfortunately, the member’s little amendment doesn’t work. It doesn’t improve the bill. It confuses the bill and it underm= ines it. It kind of wrecks it.

Sectio= n 74 is necessary for the Public Service Commission to function and, through it, briefing books can now be accessed through an ATIPP request. Only informati= on subject to the limited exceptions may be refused. Any decision made by government is subject to oversight by the Information and Privacy Commissio= ner. Access is expanded to Cabinet records. For example, factual information for= the purpose of providing background information must be released. Cabinet recor= ds that have been in existence for more than 10 years must be released, and the secretary of the Executive Council may grant access to any Cabinet record i= f it is in the public interest. Access is expanded to information related to pol= icy advice and recommendations. There has been a reduction of provisions that c= an be used to refuse such information. For example, this section only applies = to advice or recommendations.

What c= an be refused access is much narrower than the current act. Factual information f= or the purpose of providing background information must be released. It is like this because of the thoughtful work of a great many civil servants and I, f= or one, am indebted to them for their diligence on this file and I thank them,= Mr. Deputy Chair. They have written a tremendous piece of legislation that provides a robust and flexible framework that includes dynamic oversight in maintaining government accountability and protecting the public’s personal information.

This l= egislation demonstrates the government’s commitment to protecting privacy and providing access to information. It allows innovation to occur while ensuri= ng privacy and providing access to information. That is, the bill finds the ri= ght balance between the right to know and the legitimate need for members of Cabinet and the public service to have free discussions and provide frank advice. This is a foundational principle that allows necessary discussions = and permits compromises and decisions to be reached. Its practical foundation is not absolute. It is for this reason that we introduced the new features in = the bill to allow for more access to Cabinet information and information genera= ted by public servants — for example, the public interest override. The Information and Privacy Commissioner can now conduct own-motion investigati= ons. As such, it supports a government framework that allows citizens access to = more online services through a single government web portal. It allows for public bodies to carry out data-linking activities. It allows for government to ma= ke evidence-based policy decisions, and that also benefits the public interest= .

We are= confident that this bill will provide the needed clarity and efficiency that the Yuko= n government, stakeholders and the public want. We know this, Mr. Deputy Chair, beca= use we have spoken to the media, we have spoken to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and we have reviewed access to information documents across the country. We have looked at access-to-information documents abroad in foreign nations. We have spoken to other government departments. We have considered= the legal framework across the country — decisions that have been made in court. We have done our due diligence. The civil service has spent hours working on this piece of legislation, honing it and crafting it. As a resul= t, we are confident that this bill will provide the needed clarity and efficie= ncy that the Yukon government, stakeholders and the public want.

I am a= fraid I cannot support this member’s amendment — his simple plan.

Mr. Cathers: Well, that was a pretty rich speech coming from the Minister of Highways and Publ= ic Works. I do have to wonder how long the minister spent working on that. Als= o, there is, one might say, somewhat of a double standard, considering one of = the minister’s Cabinet colleagues complains about even the slightest criticism in the House, for the minister to engage in such a diatribe in th= is Legislative Assembly with personal attacks galore.

I am g= oing to focus on the policy issues. What, in fact, has occurred in this situation is the minister has been caught. It has been exposed that the Liberals’ headline announcement of releasing the content of briefing books is, in fac= t, a meaningless stunt. By allowing themselves through this section to redact all the advice and all of the recommendations contained within, they have, in f= act, while making a grand gesture with one hand, taken all of the meaningful con= tent of that gesture back with the left hand, hoping that the public will be foo= led.

I do h= ave to point out as well that I certainly do respect the work of civil servants on this legislation, and the minister is quite well aware of that fact. But the minister also knows that when it comes to the policy decisions and direction upon which this legislation is based, the minister and his Cabinet colleagu= es and perhaps their caucus had full involvement in making those decisions. The minister would like to frame a narrative for the gullible and unwary who listened to his speech that suggests that they are collaborative and we are not, but I would point out that, as the minister knows full well, the minis= ter did not engage in respectful collaboration with the Official Opposition or = work to ensure that our views were incorporated in this legislation in the way t= hat he would like to suggest. The government brings forward, not just amendment= s to legislation, but legislation itself without sharing a copy with members of = the Official Opposition or the Third Party. The minister’s words in this = case are really quite rich — for the minister to be trying to spin such a narrative.

While = we have in some cases — such as this case — brought forward proposed amendments to legislation or to motions, that is, in fact, no different from what the Premier himself did when it came to motion debate when he was in t= he Third Party. He frequently proposed amendments or provided comments on legislation or motions without first bringing it to the government. It is a pretty interesting double standard that the minister is now creating.

I do h= ave to go back to the central point here. There are two things at hand with this legi= slation that occur. The government made a much-touted announcement that they were g= oing to be so open that they were going to release the content of briefing books, but in fact, we caught the government in this area, and that has been expos= ed as a meaningless stunt, because the real content of those briefing books — the advice and the recommendations — will be something the government has given itself more ability to redact in the future. Again, the minister has given something with one hand while taking all of it back with= the other hand.

In thi= s case, if the government is actually serious about what they pretend to believe in, t= hey have an opportunity here to support this amendment. Contrary to what the minister has asserted, the amendment to the legislation is in order and the minister is fully aware of that fact.

We kno= w the minister is very sensitive because of the recent situation in which the government was caught politically interfering when it comes to ATIPP, but we are giving them an opportunity through this constructive amendment to strengthen this legislation.

We mig= ht as well get on with the vote on this. It is quite clear that the minister is not go= ing to support this constructive amendment, and we may as well not see him waste the House’s time with any of his so-called purple prose.

Hon. Mr. Streicker: <= span lang=3DEN-CA>When the amendment was proposed — was it last week? I apologize, Mr. Deputy Chair; I will have to refer back to see when it = was proposed. When the amendment was proposed, I took the time to do a couple of things. Number one was to look at other jurisdictions to try to understand = what the standard is here, and then I also had the opportunity to talk with some= of the officials just earlier today. For example, in other jurisdictions like Ontario — I looked it up — I found a very similar clause doing exactly the same thing. What I understand is that this is a very standard clause. There is a similar standard clause like this in the existing legislation, so the amendment to clause 74, as proposed, is currently in the act which the members opposite brought into force. I want to acknowledge th= at I think it’s great to hear all members of this Legislature talk about t= he importance of providing more access to information broadly. On that princip= le, I am very supportive.

I will= also say that I know of no interference that the member opposite has stated. I find = that to be incorrect — sorry, I want to be careful with language. It is no= t an accusation that I agree with in any way, and I don’t believe it has b= een well made. I will also say that one of the things that I have witnessed as a member of this government is that when we have sat around the table and discussed the principles of access to information, it has been at all times about how we can improve public access to information while also maintaining privacy, which is so critical.

The ot= her thing that I did when this amendment was proposed was I looked back to 2012, at w= hich time the then-government, the Yukon Party, brought forward their legislatio= n. I tried to track it through Hansard. It was introduced in 2012. It came to the floor for second reading on November 28, and it had less than a half-hour of debate. It then came forward a second time on December 10, 2012, and it had, again, less than a half-hour of debate at second reading. Then on December = 13, it went to — and I don’t know if this is an official term, but I hear it referred to as the guillotine clause, where the debate was closed a= nd a vote was held. So it had less than an hour of debate in this Legislature — no Committee of the Whole which we are in now in this Legislature. = Then I started reading back through it to try to see, and it was the Member for Kluane who was the minister responsible for this act at the time.

I saw = that, through debate in this Legislature, there was no briefing provided for the members of the opposition — no briefing on the legislation. When it w= as called that day, the member for the Official Opposition, the NDP, asked for= a recess because it also had not been brought up at House Leaders’ that morning to acknowledge that it was coming forward that day, so the oppositi= on was scrambling to try to prepare to speak to it.

When I= think about double standards, this feels like a double standard to me. In fact, w= hen I looked through it, one of the comments was that there had been no consultation with the public — none — about the amendment to the act. So on almost every act that I have heard — and a significant iss= ue that has been brought forward to this Legislature — one of the critic= isms that comes forward from the Official Opposition is that there is not enough consultation. I love that, because it says to me that consultation is impor= tant and that we all value it, but it was surprising to me to look back at this = and see that there had been none.

One of= the comments that came forward from the minister at the time was that it was a minor amendment. However, the Information and Privacy Commissioner said it = was significant. I think it caused some concern here in this Legislature from t= he public that there was a significant amendment coming forward to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It was not consulted on. I am happy that there is a new le= af being turned in this Legislature and that now consultation is important. I = am very happy that this piece of legislation has had extensive consultation, a= nd I am very happy that we are here in Committee of the Whole, which did not hap= pen last time.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Point of order

Deputy Chair: Mr. Cathers, on a point of order.

Mr. Cathers: The minister does not appear to be speaking to the amendment that is before the House.

Deputy Chair: Mr. Streicker, please.

Hon. Mr. Streicker: <= span lang=3DEN-CA>On the point of order, Mr. Deputy Chair, I am speaki= ng to the debate that we have had here on the floor about this amendment, talking about double standards, talking about consultation, talking about the importance of this act and making sure that, through the amendment as propo= sed by the member opposite, it is providing somehow more access to information.= I think it is all relevant. I look forward to your decision, Mr. Deputy = Chair.

Deputy Chair’s ruling

Deputy Chair: It appears to me on this that you have not gone that far off what was being brought up by the Member for Lake Laberge, so I will call this a disagreeme= nt among members, and we will continue on.

 

Hon. Mr. Streicker: <= span lang=3DEN-CA>So let me talk about what this amendment proposes and does not= . I take the member at his word that this is to provide greater access and more access. I thank him for wanting greater and more access. However, I note th= at beyond the briefing books — which, yes, we have acknowledged are something that we would be rolling back, that previous amendments of 2012 w= ere moved and are rolled back — we have other clauses.

For ex= ample, clause 82 in the bill that is before us talks about — despite any of = the provisions that are in the sections here the member is now proposing an amendment on — I’m now quoting from section 82(1): “̷= 0; the head of a responsive public body must not deny an applicant access to information in relation to which the head, after consideration of the facto= rs listed in paragraphs (2)(a) and (b), determines that the public interest in disclosing the information clearly outweighs the public interest in withhol= ding the information from disclosure.” In other words, if it’s in the public’s interest, it should outweigh all.

That w= as not there and it is now, so there’s an example of a way in which it goes beyond this amendment that the member has proposed.

This a= mendment is going to a clause that is central to all of the legislation that I have found looking across the country. It seems to me that it is a standard clau= se. If the point of the member opposite is to increase access there, I hope that means that he will be supportive of the legislation overall as a result of = the fact that, as I just pointed out, there are improvements. I don’t thi= nk it is right to get at this clause. I thank him for his proposed amendment.<= /span>

Mr. Cathers: I appreciate the legal advice and interpretation from the Minister of Communi= ty Services, who I wasn’t aware was actually a lawyer, but in him doing = his scan of the country — or claiming to — I would point out that w= hen the government has compared this section to pieces in other legislation, th= ere are significant differences, contrary to what the government says.

I woul= d just have to remind the public that it’s quite clear that the government is — the Minister of Highways and Public Works worked long and hard on h= is speech, trying to come up with a way to spin this issue but, in fact, we ha= ve a situation here where the government has got caught with their signature commitment of this legislation: the access to ministerial briefing books. I= t has been proven that through this section, by the Minister of Highways and Publ= ic Works’ own admission, there is the ability on — quote: “… a case-by-case analysis…” for that — and a= gain I quote — that if it — quote: “… fits the criteria = for exceptions and if information within a briefing book fits the criteria, it = can be rejected.” So the minister confirmed that they have the ability through this section of the act to refuse to release the advice and recommendations contained within briefing books, which effectively renders = this entire commitment and their signature announcement related to this as smoke= and mirrors — a shell game, so to speak.

On the= one hand, the government has pretended to create access to information, but on the ot= her hand, has clawed back all of the meaningful content of those briefing books, because the factual information contained within briefing books is available through other sections of ATIPP, so if the advice and the recommendations contained within ministerial briefing books is redacted through this sectio= n of the act, then effectively this entire exercise was just an empty gesture by= the government aimed at political grandstanding.

I̵= 7;m just going to note that, through this section of the legislation, it does appear that the government is giving themselves the ability to apply the curtain of secrecy on a broader basis. The minister himself has admitted that it appli= es to ministerial briefing books on, in his words, a case-by-case basis, but in fact, it appears to allow for a significant broadening of that.

There = are two things in ministerial briefing books that I should reiterate: one is factual information, normally available through ATIPP requests outside of briefing books, and the second and more notable piece is the advice and recommendati= ons on what the minister may wish to say or may wish to do.

By com= pletely providing the ability for the Liberal government and its ministers to claw = back and keep all of the advice and recommendations secret, in not just minister= ial briefing books but, in fact, broadening it to apply to other matters, it do= es seem that they have given themselves the ability to not only completely undo all of what they claim to do in increasing public access, but broadening th= at to apply to other matters.

We hav= e brought forward an amendment that I have prepared. It is a constructive amendment, = and I would just reiterate for those listening and reading Hansard that what th= is section does, what the proposal I brought forward does is it would allow government to continue to keep matters prepared for Cabinet confidential. We respect that principle, but it would eliminate the ability that seems to be created through clause 74 to redact all of the advice and recommendations f= rom briefing books before releasing them and to apparently broaden the ability = to refuse to release advice and recommendations on other matters the minister = may receive and on a broader basis if it is prepared for a public body.<= /p>

Theref= ore, I believe that this proposal that narrows the ability to refuse to release ad= vice and recommendations — to cover those recommendations that are prepared for Cabinet — respects that principle of Cabinet confidentiality with= out giving each and every minister the broad ability to interpret the act as th= ey choose. I do have to remind you, Mr. Deputy Chair, that ministers have been given more of a role in this legislation than exists in the previous b= ill.

I woul= d note that the Minister of Highways and Public Works, when referring to the ministers’ ability to interpret the act, characterizes a situation wh= ere, while he would release the information, he said — and I quote: “… hopefully it will do the same for others in this House...= 221; As I noted on November 6 in debate on this clause initially, relying on how “hopefully” ministers would be convinced to release information= is not a sound basis for legislation, and it is certainly not open and transparent, as the government claims to be.

The go= vernment will, of course, stand and demonstrate where they truly stand on this issue= of access to information, and I would note that if they vote for it, it will preserve the principles of Cabinet confidence while eliminating the ability that the government seems to have created for themselves through clause 74 = to broaden the curtain of secrecy under the Liberal government from not only beyond ministerial briefing books, but to other matters the minister covers= and to other matters within public bodies.

I do w= ant to note, just in conclusion — I want to reiterate the fact that we respe= ct and appreciate the work that civil servants have done on this legislation a= nd recognize that, of course, at all times they are acting under the direction= of the government of the day. We certainly don’t take any issue with the work that they have done in this area, but we have brought forward a well-thought-out amendment that will help the government actually fulfill i= ts platform commitment. If they vote against it, they are, in fact, continuing with what appears to be a plan to broaden the curtain of secrecy that falls under this Liberal government, which has already been caught acting inappropriately on ATIPP.

Deputy Chair: Is there any further debate on the amendment?

Are yo= u agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.

Deputy Chair: In my opinion, the nays have it. I declare the amendment to clause 74 defeated. <= /span>

Amendment to clause 74 negatived

&= nbsp;

Deputy Chair:̳= 5;Is there any further debate on clause 74?

Clause 74 agreed to

On Clause 75

Clause 75 agreed to

On Clause 76

Clause 76 agreed to

On Clause 77

Clause 77 agreed to

On Clause 78

Clause 78 agreed to

On Clause 79

Clause 79 agreed to

On Clause 80

Clause 80 agreed to

On Clause 81

Clause 81 agreed to

On Clause 82

Mr. Kent: The Official Opposition has no more questions with respect to this act. I am not sure if colleagues have any other questions on the clauses, but we are prepared. I would need the script and the clause number — sorry.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Mostyn: I want to continue debate on clause 82. It is an important cla= use in this piece of legislation and deserves a little bit of attention and a litt= le bit of focus.

It rea= ds: “82(1) Despite any provision of Division 8 or 9 other than section 67, the head of a responsive public body must not deny an applicant access to information in relation to which the head, after consideration of the facto= rs listed in paragraphs (2)(a) and (b), determines that the public interest in disclosing the information clearly outweighs the public interest in withhol= ding the information from disclosure.”

That i= s that providing the information clearly outweighs the public interest in withholding that information. We have a way of getting information to the public — even information that is held in a public document — that would otherwise = not be available. It’s a public interest override. It is an important pie= ce of this legislation to provide that escape clause — that way of getti= ng public information to the public when otherwise it would be withheld.

On sec= tion 2, in determining whether the public interest in disclosing the information clear= ly outweighs the public interest in withholding it under subsection (1), the h= ead — the person responsible for the department — must consider the following factors: the level of public interest in the information, whether= the information is likely to be accurate and reliable. This was important, beca= use in discussion in 2012 on the act, we had the minister responsible at the ti= me quoted in Hansard, nervously talking about misinformation in a public spher= e. To quote, at the time, “When the Cabinet confidences are not upheld a= nd incomplete drafts and preliminary briefings are thrown into the public sphe= re, political crowing and scaremongering often ensues.” Political crowing= and scaremongering often ensues when you throw inaccurate information into the public sphere.

“= ;Decision-makers are not given the opportunity to complete their work. Assumptions about direction or outcome often form before a decision is complete, making the w= ork of public officials all the more time-consuming and costly, a burden that ultimately the taxpayers bear” — a burden that, ultimately, the taxpayers bear, Mr. Deputy Chair. “Furthermore, the spreading of inaccuracies and misinformation leads to confusion, both internal to govern= ment and within the public sphere.”

It is = amazing to look at where we are six years later.

What w= e are going to do — we want to make sure that we clear up that misinformati= on. Clause 82 allows us to provide that clarity that the members opposite were = so fearful of back in 2012. If there is a need to clear up, to provide clarity= , a government could come forward with the information that would hitherto be denied and make it available to the public — to clear up any misconce= ptions or inaccuracies that may arise when documents are leaked to the public from= the government. As we know, going back to 2012, when Cabinet confidences are not upheld and incomplete drafts and preliminary briefings are thrown into the public sphere, political crowing and scaremongering often ensue. Now we hav= e a way of clearing up that scaremongering — political crowing — by releasing documents through the public interest override section of this pi= ece of legislation.

I know= that the member opposite was talking in his earlier remarks about this — that there were some things said, that they caught the government — about = our ability to suppress information. I think he was talking about briefing notes — the briefing notes that the members opposite struck from the record — actually put into a black box well away from any public oversight. = This act brings them back into the fold. This act brings them to the light and m= akes them available — makes factual information available to the public. A= s a matter of fact, as we mentioned on clause 74, if there is factual informati= on in a document, that information must be disclosed — it must be. It is= not suppression of public information; that is a provision of public informatio= n, and that is what this act does in spades, contrary to the assertions of the members opposite.

Now, i= t is true that advice to Cabinet in the Westminster system is protected. That allows = us to get advice and make decisions based on the advice that we are given R= 12; the professional advice from our civil servants. That is still protected. However, section 82, which we are discussing right now, is an override. It = will actually allow us to make it public in certain cases — if the informa= tion meets these criteria. That criteria, as I said, is the level of public inte= rest — “(a) the head must consider the following factors…̶= 1; — and can’t go off willy-nilly, can’t go off making decis= ions on the fly.

They h= ave to consider: “(i) the level of public intere= st in the information, (ii) whether the information is likely to be accurate and reliable, (iii) whether similar information is in the public domain, (iv) whether suspicion is likely to exist in respect of a public body’s conduct in relation to the matter to which the information relates, (v) if = harm to a person, public body or government is likely to result from disclosure = of the information, the significance and type of the harm” — again= , a considered opinion about what harm might happen to somebody — “= (vi) whether the disclosure of the information is likely to result in similar information no longer being supplied to a public body.”

Factor= (b) is: “if the information is of a type referred to in paragraph 69(1)(a) or (b), the head must consider the following factors in addition to the factors referred to in paragraph (a).” That is: “(= i) whether the public interest in disclosing the information clearly outweighs= (A) any financial loss or gain to a person or entity that could be reasonably expected to occur because of the disclosure, (B) any harm to the competitiv= e or negotiating position of a person or entity that could be reasonably expecte= d to occur because of the disclosure, (2) whether disclosing the information cou= ld be reasonably expected to improve competition, and (c) the head must not consider the following factors: (i) the applicant’s identity or motive for requesting access to the information…”

That f= irst one I am sure will be of grave concern to the members opposite, so they must take solace in the fact that section 82(c)(i) is in = there, because the applicant’s identity or motive for requesting information must not be considered. I know that is a concern for the members opposite, = so I am sure it is good for them to have this in here.

It goe= s on: “(ii) whether the medium in which the information is available would, if the information were disclosed in that medium, contribute to misunderstanding of the information by the applicant or the public, (iii) whether there are mea= ns, other than through submitting an access request, for the applicant or the public to become aware of the information or know that it exists.”

If that threshold is met, then the head must not consider any of those factors befo= re making a decision on this piece of legislation.

There = are things to protect the public, but there are also measures to get more information before the public in this legislation. We know that, unlike the amendments brought in in 2012, this does bring more information before the public and = it does provide a measure of confidence in the public that their government is transparent. That is really an underlying principle of this legislation = 212; this transparency and openness of the public government in service of its citizens.

We hav= e talked about red tape a little bit in the past, and red tape will be lessened thro= ugh this legislation. It will ease the provision of information when we are tal= king about the provision of information within government. We can actually share information more easily within the confines of the government with this legislation in place. That, of course, is also another very important piece= of this legislation.

We kno= w that these clauses — like clause 82, which we are talking about right now — were well-considered by the civil service when they were doing their research into this piece of legislation. The Information and Privacy Commissioner, in her review of this legislation — she was integral to= the drafting of this legislation, unlike amendments that were brought forward in 2012 and really barely saw the light of day before they were brought to this House — had no concerns with 82. She actually lauded the fact that we= had more methods of getting information before the public. So it was drafted wi= th consideration and with thoughtfulness.

Contra= ry to what the members opposite have been saying, this does put briefing books before = the public. It puts all factual information contained in the government record before the public. It actually will allow the public to see far more information than they were allowed to see after the amendments were rammed through the Legislature in 2012 with absolutely no public consultation, wit= h no oversight by the Information and Privacy Commissioner and with no consultat= ion with the opposition at the time. They just sort of appeared magically before the House, and with scant more than an hour’s debate, they were passed and guillotined into existence. We know from the fact that there was no pub= lic interest — there was no clause 82 in that amended legislation back in 2012. A public interest override wasn’t even considered. It wasn̵= 7;t even part of that whole thing. There was little thought to any such measure= in that amended piece of legislation — the reason being that the governm= ent was focused at the time on trying to keep Cabinet information out of the pr= ying eyes of journalists. We don’t do business that way in this government now; we do it differently. That’s why this new legislation provides access to factual information. It does not redact. It provides information instead of documents. That’s an important piece.

I̵= 7;m very proud of the bill. I have made that known on several different occasions. I think clauses like clause 82, the public interest override, are a vast improvement over what we have now. Briefing books will be made available. T= he factual information will not be suppressed anymore, and it’s going to= be a far better day for the territory going forward after this bill is passed.=

With t= hat, Mr. Deputy Chair, I move that you report progress.

Deputy Chair:̳= 5;It has been moved by Mr. Mostyn that the Chair report progress.

Motion agreed to

&= nbsp;

Hon. Ms. McPhee: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Deputy Chair: It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.

Motion agreed to

 

Speaker resumes the Chair<= /p>

 

Speaker: I w= ill now call the House to order.

May th= e House have a report from the Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole?

Chair’s report

Mr. Adel: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 207, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2018‑1= 9, and directed me to report progress.

Commit= tee of the Whole has also considered Bill No. 24, entitled Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and direct= ed me to report progress.

Speaker: You= have heard the report from the Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole.

Are yo= u agreed?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Speaker: I d= eclare the report carried.

&= nbsp;

Hon. Ms. McPhee: I move that the House do now adjourn.

Speaker: It = has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.<= /p>

Motion agreed to

&= nbsp;

Speaker: Thi= s House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.

&= nbsp;

The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.

&= nbsp;

&= nbsp;

&= nbsp;

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